Faster, higher, stronger

kids love sports, instinctively. But not all of them. They easily stick to some while abandon others. It usually depends on the sport’s difficulty and one’s confidence. Claire gives up quickly some activity when she has found herself not good at it.

One day, at the local Children’s museum, several volunteers were encouraging kids to do sports. They invited the small ones to sit on a board with wheels and to move foreword by their legs. A 2 year-old can already do this. The lady set the small boy at the start point. After the sign”go”, she turned on a stopwatch, which, for me, was a too serious object that usually doesn’t belong to a children’s playground. The path was only one meter and the little boy arrived easily. After the congratulation words, the lady showed the stopwatch to the boy, in a very surprised and serious manner, “wow, you did great job, only 15 seconds!” The boy thrilled.

It was the stopwatch that attracted Claire’s attention, who wanted to give a shot herself. She was excited to learn that her performance was better. This game was no longer an attractive activity for her age but she insisted to try again. “You can do better,” the lady generously gave her permission.

On the other side of the room, an other lady was animating a game, which is supposed to test the balance ability. Children were asked to hold a wooden spoon with a plastic egg on it and to move foreword. They held in the other hand a measure tap while the lady kept the main part of the measure tap at the start point. Concentrated and staring at the egg, Claire stepped out. “You have walked for 10 feet! Congratulations!” these words cheered her up and made her day. Even at home, she wanted to do it again and asked me to measure up the distance.

I was amazed by these professional tools, which turned to make kids more motivated to try and to practice some sports. We always say, “you can do it! you can do it better!” However, sometimes, these words are so common that thy don’t have a effective impact on kids.

When Claire turns the Hula hoop, she easily gets frustrated and even refuses to do it again. One day, I proposed to write down the number of turns she had achieved. The next day, I suddenly praised her former performance by emphasizing the number:” You did 9 yesterday, great job! You want to try again?” She picked up the hoop. Even she failed to do better, she didn’t appear to be annoyed. Maybe she was impressed by her formal performance that was written down. With some nearly “official count”, kids may imagine that they were acting professionally.

Learning to swim still frighten Claire. “I will always wear my jacket, even I’m thirty years old, one hundred years old, one thousand years old.”swore she. I needed to begin in the bath tub. “Can you put your heard one second under the water?” I suggested. “Too long!” refuted she. “Zero point one second?” I tried another day. “What does it mean?” she seemed interested. “A very very short time,” then I put her mouth under the water and cheered,” wow, you did it.” It was a false one but that made the thing become interesting. I will try another day the “on second” and made it a huge success. If the one second is passed, then two seconds, three seconds…

I’m not an exigent mom and I do believe that achievements should not shadow the joy. Maybe it’s too early to be competitive. Nevertheless, if kids are sensitive with numbers and progress, I will encourage them to do better and be as proud as themselves.

You can do it! You can do it better!

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