Saturday, August 4, 2012

Taking Away Struggle Takes Away From Victory

About a year ago I purchased a kayak, one large enough and sturdy enough to use on larger lakes and rivers.  I have become accustom to its handling on the water and feel very comfortable and safe in the changeable weather conditions. I have not (as of yet) filled the kayak with excessive amounts of water nor tipped out in any depth of water.  With the weather and water being so warm of late I decided that it might be a good time to practice remounting the kayak from deep water. 

This past week, my husband and I were out on a nearby lake that had a sandbar about 200 yards off shore.  This sandbar also happened to be the gathering spot for other motorized boats and swimmers (people we knew). So, we decided to paddle out to visit with some of our friends.  We tied our kayaks off on one of the other boats and swam and visited.  When it was time to leave and since we were already in the water we decided to practice getting in our kayaks from the water (neck deep water-over our heads).
We told our friends we were going to do this and no (thank you) we didn’t want help.  As our friends watched our attempts to get in the kayaks from the water I could see their discomfort grow.  After the first couple of failed attempts they asked “do you want us to hold them for you?” I replied “no, that this was part of practicing getting back in”.  They continued to watch and I watched them.  Their discomfort with our failed attempts was growing with each attempt.  They began to offer suggestions and again offered to hold the kayaks for us. 
On several occasions I was so close to getting in and at the last moment I would over adjust and go over the top and into the water again.  I was actually having fun with this practice and was OK with my errors.  I was tweaking my technique and knew that I would get back in some how.  My husband was the first to get back in his kayak and I followed shortly after.  We got a standing ovation from our friends in the boat and it felt really good to be successful and to have their support.
As we paddled away I thought about how we as parents do this with our children.  We want them to be successful and not to have to struggle or experience possible embarrassment. What we need to remember is that the practice can be fun and if it is fun they will continue to practice until they get it right or at least to a level of performance that they are comfortable with.  If we take away the struggle, we also take away their victory. 

It would have been so easy to give in just to alleviate their discomfort of not being able to help.