How often do you help tie your child's shoelaces or let them learn by trial and error? How often do you stop yourself from swooping in to catch them from falling from their bicycle? The answer is, probably not enough.
The fact is, our fast paced lives stop us from letting children complete tasks independently, in their own time or through the hard process of getting things wrong.
Whenever one of my gymnasts fall, I always ask them; what went wrong and what did you learn? With heartbreaking tears they are forced to pause and reflect on their failure. Whether your child is an elite or recreational gymnast, both have a fundamental lesson to learn; failure.
"We need to encourage our children to not fear failure but to learn from it and persevere."
In coaching gymnastics I have found that it is not always the most talented children who succeed, but rather the ones with grit; the ones who are able to get up and try again after every fall. A child's resilience when facing a challenge will help them to tackle true hardships later on in life.
Sure, some of my gymnasts are more gritty than others, but unlike talent, which is largely inherent, a child's grit and perseverance can be developed over time. Gymnastics is the one sport, well known for developing some truly gritty athletes.
Here are some great tips from the sport that can help develop your child's grit:
Overcoming the fear of failure
I am finding the removal of competition from sports to be an accelerating trend. We have begun to define success, not as the overcoming hurdles, but rather as the avoidance of failure at all costs.
In an attempt to cocoon our children from the disappointment of failure, we are preventing them from the valuable lessons that defeat provides. Their true achievement is not the activity but confronting challenges with courage and never giving up.
Gymnastics is a sport where falling and learning through trial and error is more often than not, unavoidable. The children learn that everyone in the class attempts challenging activities, fails and tries again. Their victory when they master a difficult task is made all the more sweeter, given their struggle to attain success.
We need to encourage our children to not fear failure but to learn from it and persevere. Through perseverance, children develop resilience. They develop the necessary self-confidence to know that when they fall, they can get back up.
Understanding failure as vital feedback
Part of my job as a gymnastics coach is to help athletes analyse where they went wrong and help them to improve on their next attempt. Our coaching process aims to re-frame failure, from something that is final and defeating to more of an iterative process. We channel failure as the fundamental source of healthy motivation in the process of personal improvement.
In gymnastics, we let children embrace failure. With each little defeat, gymnasts are helped to develop the necessary pattern of re-evaluation and re-trial. The gymnast approaches each new attempt more wisely, having used the opportunity of failure as feedback to learn from.
"...it takes tremendous strength and resolve as a parent to allow your children to suffer through their failings."
Letting your child fail, is not letting them down
It is the most natural instinct for a parent to want to protect their child, however children need independence to learn. Of course there needs to be a balance. However, it takes tremendous strength and resolve as a parent to allow your children to suffer through their failings. Take comfort in the knowledge that these failures will give them the strength of character to become well-rounded little individuals and in the future, successful and confident adults.
At Gymkidz we understand the inherent risks associated with gymnastics and create the safest environment possible to allow your child to explore their capabilities. We teach them how to try, fall, assess and jump up to try again.
At the heart of our program we aim to build resilient, gritty children who thrive to do a little better after each fall.
If you want your child to be successful, let them fail.
Want your child to be gritty, or just want to learn more about what we do? Why not contact us for a free trial session and to find out more about our program.
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Happy Rolling – Gymkidz | 0406 042 385 | 95 Lennox St Newtown | Gymkidzau@gmail.com