Yesterday, I wrote about my choice to not “let” my child win at Connect 4. I chose instead to teach her the art of strategizing to create her own win. After a few games of me blocking her moves, she started to figure out how to create multiple strategies at the same time. I was very proud of her, but also a bit proud of me for making her work for the win. It got me thinking about “tough love.” At what point do we stop “letting them win”? When do we stop trying to make things easy for them?
When I play with my 5 year old, I still make things easy for him. I only recently stopped doing that for my 9 year old. I think I may have done her an injustice by “letting her win” for so long! When we play catch, she wants me to throw it gently under-hand to make it easy for her to catch, I am not doing that any more (at least not every time). This past spring, she was in softball. She didn’t like it much because she could strike out (and often did). The year before, she had been in Instructional Baseball where if they didn’t hit the ball by the 7th pitch, they could hit off the T. She loved it!
I thought back to when I was a kid. I don’t remember a time when my Mom made things easy for me, but I know she sometimes did. I don’t recall her pushing me much either, but I know she did. As a teacher, I strive to always push kids just a little past where they are at. Why am I not doing the same thing with my own kids? Sometimes I do, but other times, I could do better.
One of the challenges of parenting, is to find the balances. We need to find the balance between work and play, challenging and helping, giving and taking… It is a challenge. If we can help our children become well-rounded individuals, who can be good sports about whatever life throws their way, it will be well worth the end results!