We’ve just come back from a lovely family weekend, supporting no1 son at an athletics event. He competed in three events over the two days, and I was amazed at his maturity, which I want to share.
He’s always been a keen sportsman, and I’m sure his school friends will remember him as the one who always won things. We do have a plethora of medals, trophies and certificates, but we’ve always tried not to focus on that. It’s always been about the “taking part”, and “being part of a team”. However, as he gets older, and is focusing on one or two sports, it’s starting to get a bit more serious.
For someone who is used to winning things, he’s always struggled when he comes second, or doesn’t get through to a final. He will choose not to take part in something, rather than ‘know’ he can’t win it. I’m sure he’s not alone in this, but we still encourage being part of school teams, even in sports he doesn’t excel in. He’s even like this when we play Pass the Pigs, or Monopoly!
His main sport is athletics. Decathlon to be precise. Yes, that’s the 10 track and field events which Daley Thompson brought to our attention back in the 1980s. The thing with no1, is that he’s always been an all round sportsman. Good at everything, which is perfect for a combined eventer.
So, this weekend, having moved to a new age group, U17, his coach wanted him to compete in three individual events. He’s shown us that he’s growing up, and can see the long term picture. This is a new development for us to see from him, and I wanted to share that it can, and obviously does happen to our children, even when we doubt they’ll get there, let alone quickly, (in our eyes).
How do we know he’s growing up?
As usual, no1 set himself some goals for the events he was competing in. On day one, he didn’t achieve his goal for long jump, but what he did do, he decided, and then told us, was that he found some fairly consistent technique. From what we saw, he looked more relaxed overall.
Day 2, today, he competed in 200m, which he doesn’t have to do in his combined events. It was simply a training session, and he got a personal best, even with slowing down towards the line. He literally went straight from the end of the race to the high jump, where he achieved a personal best, a height higher than his goal for this event.
His telling comment when we left this afternoon, was, “no medals, but I’m happy”. Wow! That’s a big turn up for us all. He’s looking at each event as a stepping stone for his goal of getting to the Olympics in 2024. He knows he doesn’t need to win things now. As we were all reminded on Saturday, when Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill was presented with a momento by Northern Athletics, she came 15th in her first big competition. Yes, she went on to get lots of podium positions, and win lots of events, but not whilst she was learning her craft.
We believe, no1 is growing up, as he’s realising that everything he’s doing now is helping him to learn his craft. He has to learn to control his mind, and believe he can achieve. He has to learn how to cope when he doesn’t win everything, as it’s highly unlikely he’ll be the best at all 10 events in a decathlon. He has to learn that things don’t always go your way. You may not get the best preparation for one event. You may even have an injury, (we’ve been lucky up until now, and hope to remain injury free).
Helping our young people growing up
I’m sure there are numerous ways we can support our young people whilst they’re growing up. I know there’s a balance between boundaries and freedom to explore. We have to let our young people set their own goals, and believe in themselves. We always have to believe in them, and know that they are growing up. They are all learning from the world around them, those of us close by, and what they see and hear in the world.
We can’t protect our young people, but we can love them and care for them. We can help them realise their dreams, and believe in them. We must not put barriers in their way, but work with them to overcome any obstacles which may be perceived.
Let’s just hope this new found maturity spills over to all areas of no1 life, and what he learns from his sport, can be put into practice in other areas, where he doesn’t come first, but he can still succeed. If he believes in himself, and if he puts his mind to it.
I’d love to know what you see in the young people growing up near you. Do they believe in themselves?
Those of you who know me well, know that supporting children to believe in themselves is one of my mantras. Not just my own children, but all children I come across.
I’m proud to say I was instrumental in developing a Junior Triathlon section in my local athletic and triathlon club, where I learnt so much about people, both parents and children. The ethos of the club was very much about involvement and taking part. All children were encouraged to believe in themselves, and be the best they could be, whatever activity they were taking part in.
Some of you may know that I have two very talented sporty sons. The eldest, now 15, has always had an amazing aptitude in any sport he tried, and has been outstanding at many of them. He’s currently focusing on athletics, and Decathlon in particular. Yes, that’s right. That 10 eventer that Daley Thompson is famous for. Wow! Just training and learning all those different activities is amazing to me.
My youngest, almost 13, has sort of hidden himself in the shadows of his older brother. When he was choosing secondary school, I believe he wanted to go somewhere else as he didn’t want to always be “No1 brother”. He did chose the same school as no1, and has carved his own narrative at school.
However, it’s taken him longer to work out his own sporting loves. No2 is talented in different ways. Whereas no1 wants a quick win (with 10 events, they tend to be short and snappy), no2 much prefers endurance events. He loves cross country in all the mud, and has decided to do more triathlons again this year.
The reason this post is being written, is that no2 took part in the county Cross Country running championships yesterday. He came 12th in his age group. He was disappointed.
Now, whilst not everyone does cross country, or loves it like no2, he came 12th in the county out of 44 entrants. We don’t believe he should be disappointed. However, he was working off previous race results, including a recent series in which he came 6th overall. Children look at previous results, and the people around them, rather than running their own race, or doing their own thing, and enjoying it.
Today, no1 son took part in an open athletics meeting today. It wasn’t a competition as such, but all athletes want to do their best, whenever they compete. He was disappointed too in his performance. Maybe it’s because they’re both perfectionists that they become disappointed? Or they always want to do well? Is that a concern? Well, it’s not, but it’s not always easy to live with!
How do we support children to believe in themselves?
Whilst supporting children to believe in themselves is not just about sport, or music, or academia, or whatever talent and skills they have, cracking their belief in themselves in one area, will help this skill transfer to other areas of their lives.
This weekend, all we’ve done is told our boys that they’ve done their best, and to learn from the experience. Each competition, test at school, or question in class is all about preparing them isn’t it. It’s not the be all and end all. Within sport, each training session, event, and competition is part of the pathway to a long term goal. For no1 he has his sights set on the Olympics in 2024. If he continues his current pathway, injury free, then that may be a possibilty for him. So today’s disappointments are simply there to help him learn how to forget about a bad throw and put all his knowledge and training into the next one.
Our children go through so many changes too. Schools, teachers, friendships are big. But their body changes and hormones have a massive effect on them. No2 has had a big growth spurt this last month, and he hasn’t found his natural running rhythm again yet. He may not find it for a while, as many children don’t. It takes time for them to grow into their bodies.
No1 has had many instances already where his growth spurts cause confusion for his sport. It doesn’t matter. Learning how to deal with it, and look at the long term goal is the most important thing. Boys, I understand, can continue to grow and develop until they’re about 21, so we’ve got a lot of learning to do over the next few years.
Encouragement, love and support are the main things we can do as parents and supporters. Helping our children understand that they can be whoever they want to be, and do whatever they want to do, “when they grow up”, and not limit them in any way.
Supporting our children isn’t easy. I also know that not everyone can support talented children to achieve. It takes whole family effort and support. Our WhatsApp group is called Team Hughes, and we talk about being a team the whole time. They need support from us, and we need support from them.
I’m sure there are lots of ways we can support our children believe in themselves. This is simply my personal experience, which may be helpful to others.
I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions below.
Today, my eldest becomes a teenager. I clearly remember the day he came into this world, and still feel very blessed by his presence. He’s made us so proud already, I sometimes feel I will burst with pride. So, what now?
Whilst we know that babies don’t come with manuals, that we have to learn how to parent, love and nuture, the same is true as children get older. The challenges get different within the family, not necessarily more difficult, but sometimes they are. We’ve learnt together how to deal with situations and set boundaries together. We’ve asked friends how to deal with certain issues. We’ve searched online for answers, and found some great places to read and share, including BeTeenUs.
We’ll I for one aren’t expecting behaviour, atttitude, or interests to change today. My youngest son would say the elder has been a teenager for a while now in outlook and attitude. So, what now?
- Enjoy being with him as much as possible
- Support him to use the talents he’s been given
- Challenge his behaviour and attitude when it’s outside the framework we expect
- Love him
- Cuddle him as much as he’ll let me
- Watch him grow up to be a lovely young man
What would you do/have you done with your teenage children?
There’s lots happening over here right now. “There always is”, I hear you cry! Well, yes, I guess.
Right now I’m changing the shape of the business to meet demands I hadn’t foreseen & using technology that didn’t exist a few months ago. I’m getting ready to step up to new challenges in the Bra Lady business by opening up training to anyone who wants to be a bra fitter and / or set up their own lingerie business. It’s all very exciting!
Today though could be a big step for my eldest son. As some of you know he’s very sporty and as a gifted and talented child in his first year at secondary school, we’ve got some decisions to make to support his next steps. We know life is full of paths and decisions which ones to take, but as a 12 year old, how do we help them make the ‘right’ decisions?
No. 1 has been offered an opportunity to be part of a coaching structure which we, as parents who’ve done quite a bit of research, believe will support his development in sport. It’s a big step though. His biggest fear, I think, is not knowing anyone. The decision is his to make, and if this opportunity isn’t right, we’ll search for something else that is.
I’d be interested to hear how you have helped your children make some of the ‘big decisions’ in their life.
This was shared by a Mum I know with teenage daughters. I feel it’s relevant to any parent & child relationship. What do you think? Thanks to Lynne, @HonieBUK, who’s a busy Mum & blogs here.
FOR MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER AND HER FRIENDS:
You ARE beautiful – you don’t need a ‘like for looks’ to hear this
You ARE bright – even if some of your decisions are a bit misguided
You DO have my back – even when you do your best to cover up
You WILL make mistakes – just be sure to be with those you trust when you do
Yes, I have made mistakes, I have felt the way you do, I have lied to my parents and thought I knew best, I did think enough of myself to do the things I thought best for me……
I had some pretty bad friends and some that weren’t looking out for me.
But, I was very lucky to have good friends who were there to share these experiences with me and yes, they did watch my back…..
More importantly, there came a time when I realised that my parents, no matter how annoying, were right to nag me, right to keep on at me, to tell me the answers to my flippant “What the worst that could happen” and only now do I realise how unbelievably terrifying it is to ‘allow’ your Daughter to make mistakes and pray that she will have the same insight I did and the good friends I had to get me through my teenage years of thinking ‘I knew best’.
YOUR MUM IS NOT PERFECT – She has had years to experience, years to make mistakes, years to get over them, years to put things behind her, years to make the best of what she has, years to make things the best she can.
She also had her parents there to watch her do all of this and I’m grateful they were there.
YOU ARE YOUR OWN PERSON – BUT YOU ARE ALSO MY DAUGHTER – I’LL ALWAYS BE YOUR MUM – AND I’LL ALWAYS LOVE AND SUPPORT YOU xXx