Be involved in your child’s activities |

Be involved in your child’s activities

Matthew Bayley

In this column I would like to discuss how success in activities and, more importantly, how a child’s belief that they have the support of their parents in the pursuit of new activities can empower and enable a child to protect themselves against a bully or a child molester.

Children, like all people, are dynamically stable. They are either feeling better about themselves or they are feeling worse. In a study commissioned by the American Association of University Women, it was found, nationwide, that the self-esteem of a young woman drops by 50 percent between third grade and 12th grade and that a young man’s self esteem drops by 42 percent.

There are too many causative factors to adequately cover in this article, so I will save it for another time. It is important to point out that self-esteem is the quality a person must posses to make safe choices and stand up to bullies.

The point is: We, as parents, have ready made opportunities to do something about the health of our children’s self-esteem based on the interest and support we give them in the activities they pursue.

The more confident our children are that they have our unconditional support, the more likely they are to come to us when they face the inevitable crisis of growing up. The more confident your children are that you will listen to their concerns and act on them, the more likely they are to stand up for themselves.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

By the very nature of human interaction, the activities your children engage in will provide you with ample chances to prove to your children that you are there for them.

Do not miss these opportunities. How you handle them can be the key to your long term relationship with your children. Another major consideration: 84 percent of the time a child knows when an adult is trying to molest them, and the adult is usually in a position of authority.

It can only benefit your children if you are very selective of the adults you let interact with your child. When you put your child in soccer, hockey, karate or, baseball. What is more important to you, the activity or your child? Your child, of course.

I highly recommend that you make sure the coach or instructor whose hand you put your child’s wellbeing feels the same. Unfortunately, we have all seen coaches who are more interested in their success as a coach than the feelings and personal growth of the children that they coach.

Aside from the fact that if a child has a negative experience in an activity, there is a high likelihood they will never try it again. Allowing an adult authority figure to marginalize your child’s efforts and needs can create a belief system in your child that nothing they do is good enough, they are not important and they have no rights to express their dissatisfaction and feelings.

I once had a hockey parent explain away the overzealous and brutal behavior of the coach of his 10-year-old’s team by saying that it was all right, because he once was a star college hockey player. Give me a break!

The personality that makes for a world class down hill racer is not necessarily the same personality trait that makes a world class ski teacher and especially a world class children’s ski teacher.

Having four children and working with many national children’s safety organizations for the last three decades, it has become quite clear that teaching children to have an equal respect for themselves and authority figures is paramount if we wish our children to stand up for themselves when the chips are down.

We want our children to be risk takers, to try new things and get as much satisfaction from the efforts they put in as the successes they have. Children who will not take risks are at risk to do drugs and alcohol.

If we think back to our childhoods, most of us can count on one hand the great teachers and coaches we had, the ones that made a positive difference in our lives. Really good children’s mentors are far and few between. For the sake of our children, we need to be critical consumers and monitor closely the activities our children are in.

One last thought: All instructors of children, regardless of the activity we teach, are first and foremost at you and your children’s service. It stands to reason that the better parent-instructor communication, the better we can do our job.

I firmly believe that the more parents communicate with me and observe my teaching, the better job I can do for their children. There is something very wrong when a teacher does not want you to watch them teach your child.

Matthew Bayley writes on safety issues.

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