“Its not about winning or loosing,
its all about doing your best,
and enjoying taking part”.
This is what we parents say to our children.
And some of us actually mean it.
Some of us definitely do not.
I teach and coach swimming,
and have seen all manner of parents.
The ones who do not take any interest,
the parents who are very appreciative of their childs efforts,
And the parents who will do everything,
to help their child achieve.
I used to ask myself,
“Does the parents desire for success,
drive their child in sport?”
Do they go on to achieve more than others?
Now after twenty five years,
I think I am able to release my findings!
I am sure they would be relevant to most sports.
The ability to be a really good swimmer is inbuilt.
Parents can help their children succeed,
up to a certain age and level.
After that it is the ability of the child,
and their innate competitiveness that brings success.
I have found that children are born competitive or not.
In my own family,
I have one daughter who believes,
every word and deed is a competition.
“I am right” is her mantra.
When she was a child,
she rushed to be the first to finish breakfast,
even though no one else knew it was a race!
She was the first to the car.
The first to the front door.
The first up the stairs.
The first to get the remote control.
She competed in gymnastics,
to quite a high level.
I supported her,
but always felt it was her competition not mine.
My competing days were over.
One day when she was ten,
we traveled to a competition.
I was concerned as I felt it was a very high standard,
and knew she would be disappointed if she did not medal.
I said, “Dont worry if you dont place, I’m very proud of you”.
She said, “I will be very cross if I don’t win gold!”
I did not enjoy the competition,
She was determined and won gold.
Her will to succeed in everything sees no boundaries.
In my own swim squads,
I can see as young as seven,
the children who “must” win.
I love to show this to other teachers.
I do so by telling my little swimmers this true story.
We had a swimmer in our club a few years ago,
who was swimming in a final.
He knew that whoever won the race,
would be the new Irish record holder,
in that event.
He badly wanted that record.
It was neck and neck coming into the final 5 metres.
He raced to the touch pad,
and hit it so hard he broke his thumb.
When I finish that story,
it is very easy to fish out the competitive thinkers.
The same three groupings come out every time.
1. “Oh no, wasn’t that awful?, Why did he do that?
3. “Did he get the record?”.
So before you dream about future glory,
for your children,
and invest a huge amount of your time and effort.
Check if in fact they are as competitive as you would wish.
Tell them my story!
Then depending on the answer,
you can decide what it is,
your child is really dreaming of!