Kids can be tough to figure out. One minute they’re super excited about something, and the next they’re completely over it! Fencing is a big commitment for a family, and it’s one that we really want to see our children succeed at. How can you encourage your child to stick with fencing?
Just as with most things in life, it’s better to act in a proactive way. Encouraging your child in positive ways all along the way will help you from getting to a moment of crisis. Here are some strategies to help you and your family make it work.
Find Fencing Role Models
By watching as much fencing as you can, you’ll give your child people to look up to. While the names of professional basketball players seem to be common knowledge, the names of top level fencers aren’t always on the evening news. Watch fencing competitions together and encourage your child to hold great fencers up as role models. There are some amazing Olympic and national level fencers out there that are truly worth emulating. Help your child to do some research and to seek great fencers to follow through their competitions. Write some fan mail, get an autograph if you see them at a competition. Those connections make fencing so exciting for your child.
Get Excited about Fencing Yourself
Your kids look up to you! We don’t always feel like they do, but they are always watching you. To encourage your child to stick with fencing, get excited about it! Of course we don’t want to dominate our kids during their activities, but at the same time if it becomes a chore for us to take them to practice, then they will start to feel as though practice is a chore. Sometimes we as parents slip into this without even realizing it, as we’ve got so many things to take care of. Take stock of how you’re reacting to your child’s fencing and adjust if you’re sending out signals that you don’t mean to.
Praise Effort, Not Outcome
One of the best parts about fencing, especially competitive fencing, is that it teaches kids that it’s ok to lose. Because it is ok to lose! Sometimes in life we get it all right, and sometimes we don’t. All along the way, encourage your child’s effort rather than the result. Yes, the result is important, but only in so far as it helps them to grow and learn resilience. Your child’s success isn’t determined by whether or not they make it to the Olympics and win gold in epee, it’s determined by whether or not they’re having fun and learning life skills.
A great thing about this is that if your child knows that you believe in them, no matter what, it will bring you closer as a family. That shoulder that you offer after a tough bout is what will really build your relationship. Kids crave unconditional love, and it feels great to give it to them.
Everything in life comes in cycles. If your child seems to be really struggling, then it’s important to have them stick through for a solid period of time. That doesn’t mean that you force them to stay forever, but it does mean that you have them finish out the season or the session.
Most often it’s not that they really want to quit, more that they’re stuck in a rough patch of a skill that’s plateauing and causing them frustration, or that they’re dealing with some interpersonal problem that will heal with time, or that they have pride that’s wounded from some event that’s occurred. In life we have to learn to stay with things through the tough times, and that it’s almost always better if we do!