By Richard Hall | Posted: Friday February 14, 2020
Teach your son to always shake hands first.
At the Year 9 Parent Evening last night, I spoke about the tension between a parent's goals for their son, and their goals for themselves. Particularly the idea that you have that they are wonderful, talented human beings who can conquer the world and their idea that they are not as good at something as everyone else. Therefore they won't take an opportunity up.
That they often, as adolescents, count themselves out.
I believe boys see opportunities through a lens that filters easy success first. Will I be really good at it? No, ok, don't bother.
Easy success is dangerous. In schools, we see boys who have physically developed early, as more confident and achieving success, particularly in a sports context. Often though, they get caught up by Year 11 and certainly Year 12 and you see them not feature highly as predicted. For those boys, that loss of easy success is very difficult. For the boys who will catch up, suggesting their time will come, say in Year 12 - it might as well be next century - so they struggle to hear your message that their turn will come.
As a parent you can easily fall into the trap of pushing too hard and not pushing enough. As a school we do that too. We always want more from them and more FOR them. So how do you achieve the balance and not nag him to death?
I think the challenge as a parent, is to stay in the game. See it as a marathon because he only sees the 100m sprint. Stand your ground and be consistent on the important issues, but be prepared to be flexible on others. He may win one or two 100m sprints but if you win the marathon, then he will be the medal holder.
The marathon goal for him is to be a good, honest human being involved in positive relationships with adults, peers and others.
I am a big believer in shaking hands for boys; that physical contact, whilst looking you in the eye gives the message that they are present and engaged. It radiates a quiet confidence that people like. It is also quite simple to do well, once you start. You don't have to be a leader to shake someone's hand well.
How does this equate to taking opportunities or achieving goals?
If your son struggles with shaking hands with adults, it will be something he can achieve. If he already does it well, it is something that you have reinforced in him. You can then piggy-back off that to other success.
When taking an opportunity, it is the stepping forward that is difficult. Often the difference between those who have taken an opportunity is they did not filter through the easy lens first.
Enjoy your weekend. I hope to coach some cricket this weekend, the mighty 9B's!