The long awaited sequel is finally here! Because, between the gym, the gym kids, the "my" kids, the husband, the cooking, and the cleaning, I got behind. But, we shall save that story for another day and instead return to the story of how my kids have changed me - hopefully for the better.
3. Kids have huge feelings.
There are too many feelings to list. I think that kids feel deeply because they live in each moment. Little ones are generally not looking into the future at what their lives could be in 5 to 10 years, but instead living in the moment. Their emotion shows on their faces and sometimes, you unexpectedly trigger an emotion you had no idea was there.
My best two examples come from my boys. My eldest, Grant, is a people pleaser. He thrives on making others happy. However, his happiness when he is being praised is somehow easily forgotten when the opportunity to sneak a Pokemon card into his backpack appears. One time, he had gotten in trouble for I don't even know what. When I came upstairs several minutes later, he was still in tears. I don't do well with tears, but tried my best to find out why he was still upset. Then it came out, "It feels like you don't like me anymore".
As I am now trying to hold back my own tears, I explain to him that I always like and love him. However, it is my job to teach him right from wrong and occasionally he will get in trouble. After a big hug and a few deep breaths, Grant was able to rest assured that his momma does still "like" him.
I see this in the gym now and wonder how many times I have missed it in the past. Sometimes it is asking for a simple correction, not getting it, and asking again. Sometimes it is having consequences for unsafe behavior. Whatever it is, you can generally see it happen on the child's face. You can pull them aside and ask them to talk. You can assure them that the reason you correct and discipline is BECAUSE you care about them.
Lucky for adults, kids forgive and forget just as largely and quickly as they feel.
4. Discipline done right is your best friend.
I am not a master parent. I also have never described myself as a "nice" parent. At the same time, I think the worst part of parenting is discipline. It is not fun to get your child in trouble, watch them cry, put them in time out, take away a privilege. However, it can be rewarding if you look at it over the course of time.
Bed time is probably one of the best things we do in our home. Ever since Grant was around 9 months old, we instituted an 8pm bed time. There is a simple routine involved: go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, read a bed time book, lights out. It is something expected and regular. I have even adjusted my work schedule so I can get home by 7:45pm to partake in the experience. Bed time at my house is easy.
The same is true at the gym. When expectations are laid out and expected on a regular basis, they become routine. There is a learning curve involved, especially with new or transfer athletes. But with consistent repetition even weird things can become routine. Warm up and stretch can be led by a 7 year old, conditioning is completed without complaint because "it's what makes us better gymnasts", and lesson plan lingo becomes gym jargon.
Consistency is important. The child needs to know what is coming next. I don't know why, but surprised don't go over well. Try changing a word in one of your child's favorite books. It doesn't fly. At the gym, I have learned to work extra hard at creating an environment that is conducive for learning. I have reinforced this environment through consistent schedules, rewarding the right behaviors, and correcting unsafe or unacceptable behaviors in a predictable manner.
I am a work in progress. I am always looking to improve myself as a coach, mom, and wife. Not all suggestions work, but I am willing to try just about anything. I am a lucky lady. I have been blessed with a beautiful family that is constantly reminding me that I do not have all the answers and sometimes, it is better to laugh than to get upset. As I continue in both of my mentoring roles, I hope that both my gym kids and own kids will continue to teach me how to be a better coach and mom.