*Yet another long post, looking for answers*
Frankly I dont know how to address this. This is something that has been gnawing at me for quite a while. A bit too much lately.
Namnam has been a girl who has never cared much about winning or staying ahead of her peers and I have been a mother, I admit, who has never really tried to change this attitude of hers. It has largely taken form because she has always been told to simply care more about giving her best and being satisfied with her own performance than worrying about performing better or worse than other children. Thus she has been in a very secure zone without cowing under any kind of performance pressure.
Yes there have been times when she has not been able to give her best, but she has never let that bother her much. In fact there have been quite a few times when her friends have surged past her, and she has genuinely felt happy for them. At such occassions, she has focused more on bettering herself the next time than whining about not scoring over her friends. And it makes me immensely happy when I see her so secure about herself. Because I have seen many children taking rejections in a very negative manner. In fact at times when Namnam has performed better than her peers, I have seen them bawling their lungs out, making a big hue and cry out of it making my child wonder if she had done anything wrong by faring well!
Now as her mother I too have not given ‘being one step ahead of others’ much importance. As long she gives her best in whatever she does and comes home completely happy and satisfied I haven’t felt the need to fret about who performed better or worse than her. Winner or not, I’m proud of her, have always been, will always be.
Two days ago, I met up with some friends and while talking, our discussion moved towards the common topic of letting our kids participate in events and competitions. And one of my friends just casually mentioned that she had stopped enrolling her daughter for competitions for the simple reason that she didn’t win any prizes in any of the events!
Which made me wonder if it was really so important to win! I mean, isn’t taking part in a competition or any event, in itself a reason enough to let your child participate?
I understand the whole grind of assembling things required to prepare your child for the event, not to forget the time and energy invested in it is not an easy task and it can be disappointing when the efforts do not yield desired results. But to look at the flip side, the participation could give your child more exposure, gain him/her more confidence in him/herself, teach him/her to face rejection and emerge stronger.
This is the reason why I avoid getting worked up over how well Namnam performs, be it in school or elsewhere. And when I see Namnam confident and secure about her own capabilities, I find it all the more easier to handle.
(Sigh, if only there weren’t any ‘ifs and buts’, life would be so much more sorted!)
But, lately I have been sensing that this attitude of hers might be making her lax, making her lose the will to perform or even win for that matter.
Recently while driving back home after Namnam’s swimming class, R and I pointed out how she had to improve further on her kicks and get better at her speed, to which she immediately replied, “Oh but P is anyway always faster than me!”. This reaction of hers gave us a jolt, making us realize that she was resigning herself to a state of being lesser than her batch mate. Which made us wonder if she was showing signs of giving up on herself.
Now I have no qualms in accepting that P may be better than my child. I know that every child is different, his/her strengths are different, capabilities are different. So if P fares better than Namnam, then it is also true that Namnam is better than A, K or B. What worries me however is when I see her devaluing herself and this when she knows that she is capable of far more than her peer.
Today, like most of the days I am confused as a parent. My mind is swaying in dilemma. Does the answer to my concerns really lie in teaching my child to be more competitive? Be more aggressive? How do I get her to value herself? Do I now start telling her that winning IS important?
Yes. I think I need to do just that.
No I don’t want to instill in my child the obsession to win at any cost! No! But I also don’t want her to think any less of herself than her peers, which may eventually give way to low self esteem. So I need to tell her to change the way she thinks..
I need to tell her to stop believing that A, P, or K can fare better than her and start believing that she can.
I need to tell her not to give up on herself.
I need to tell her to learn to face dejection and then focus on succeeding the next time.
I need to tell her that every time she thinks low of herself, her actions and performances will be that much slower.
But each time she believes in her abilities, she will be driven to give her best that much more!
I need to tell her to change the way she thinks.
Look at me! On one side I am chiding a friend’s for her overtly competitive streak and on the other I am talking about instilling the very streak in my child.
Is the mind any more sound now?
My mind is still full of conflicting thoughts, still incoherent…
Did anyone say parenting was easy?