Yesterday was one of those days where I really would rather not have been sitting in a stuffy, airless badminton hall. Outside was glorious sunshine, parents and children doing a park run, a rugby tournament with various side activities (including an ice-cream van!), and a park full of people generally having a really nice time in the sun. Inside was a slightly different story. Lots of sweaty children, all with a desire to win.
The first part of the day went well enough, my son won all his group matches which meant his mood was good. He’s funny, articulate, good company and most of the time a really nice kid. Then came the knock-out stages and the mood in the hall began to change. The gladiatorial side of things had kicked in and to stay in the competition you had to win.
He managed two rounds before the shift happened. His quarter final match just didn’t go his way, and I could see his emotions unraveling on court. But my son wasn’t the only one. Things were not going to plan for a lot of kids and throughout the hall there was high drama, tears and snotters all over the place!
For those with children that don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves, it must seem like a spoilt brat having a tantrum. For those of us whose children do, its an emotional rollercoaster, that leaves you pretty drained. You can see what is happening on court, you get that twisting sensation in your gut, you hope against all hope they can pull themselves together, see that their negative emotions aren’t doing them any favours, and then you brace yourself for your role as the emotional punchbag trying desperately hard not to react in front of an audience.
We tell them, and ourselves, its good to lose from time to time, that it will make them a better player in the long run, blah, blah, blah…
Half an hour later they’ve forgotten what they were upset about – even if you haven’t – and they’re on to something else. That’s just how they roll, it’s a part of who they are and their desire to win. Look a John McEnroe in the 1980’s and Andy Murray now. The trick is how to harness that desire and turn it in to something positive.