Done! I think that’s one of my favorite words in the English language. There’s just something so satisfying about finishing a huge project or event… to know you endured and “finished the race.” I write this on the heels of robotics season - ten weeks of late nights and intense deadlines. Every year I entertain the idea of making it my last year in robotics competitions. Then I remember how much my own kids gained from the experience, and I realize I need to make sure others’ kids get the same opportunity. It’s a true endurance test, though, and it ends with me driving a bus load of kids home for five hours!
Are you teaching your kids endurance? If you are, thank you so much! So often, I have to convince parents to make their children stick it out. As soon as the going gets rough, so many parents want to throw in the towel. So many that I had to make a school-wide policy regarding quitting. If a child quits, he/she cannot come back to that activity for a year-and-a-half. I added a 100-point credit score loss to the secondary kids because several had no problem with not coming back.
Coaches and directors and teachers have plans made and money invested based upon the numbers at the beginning of the event. When you allow your child to quit, you not only lessen the team’s/organization’s chances of being competitive, you waste the leader’s time and money. And most importantly, you weaken the marketability of your child. People might accidentally hire a quitter, but they don’t keep them.
If you are the parent of a gifted kid, your child is twice as likely to try to quit. Gifted kids hate failing. Sometimes quitting is a better option than learning that you aren’t that good and facing possible ridicule. The ironic thing is that most gifted are good at a lot of things. We use the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” when describing gifted. Chances are that your child will actually be pretty good at whatever he’s in. The slight chance that he might not be, though, is overwhelming. This is easily fixed within your household: set up a culture in which it is safe to fail. Coddling and yelling are equally unwelcome; just a good old-fashioned evaluation of the effort given and a valid processing of whether another attempt is worth it or not is all that is needed to ease their fear of failure.
I think probably one of the most useful ideas that has come out of robotics competition is the engineering design process. I love that there is no end. Every idea and prototype can be tweaked. New beginnings work off of old ideas, and the more you consider alternatives, the better your product. If we applied this process to all we teach our children, rather than the memorize, regurgitate and forget method so often used, imagine what our kids could do!
I wish you and yours enduring love this holiday season!