By Mia Anderson-Hinn
'Tis the season for many traditions, events, and wishes as we move through the holidays and look towards the new year ahead. It is also the season for AcroSports evaluations! If your kids are anything like mine, the hope of moving up to the next level is somewhere on their wishlist, and you would like to know how to best support them in their efforts. Even if they don’t seem interested in moving up or aware of the evaluation process, perhaps (as their parent) you would still like to know how to best support, empower, or motivate them in their skill development.
My two tips are:
1. Understand your child and their unique needs - not everyone responds to being evaluated the same way, so ensure they know what feedback means.
2. Be prepared! Make sure that both you and your child know what to expect.
I know we all lead busy lives, but it is always important to set aside time with your kids to discuss their personal goals and how they plan to achieve them (in all their endeavors). In terms of AcroSports’ classes, ask them:
- What they are working on in class,
- What they are struggling with in class,
- What they hope to be doing a year from now,
- What role they hope their AcroSports’ skills have in their lives 10 years from now, and
- How they are feeling about the upcoming evaluations?
The more consistent you can be with your inquiry throughout the session, the better, but it is never too late to start asking.
It is possible they can’t answer one or more of the last 4 questions with great clarity, and that is okay, it does not mean they don’t care about their goals or skill development. Rather, it means they are still young, content with where they are at present, and process-oriented in their development (I have one of these). Follow their lead and learn everything you can about valuing the process (over results) if you aren’t fortunate enough to be process-oriented yourself. As they get older, it is typically okay to gently challenge them to be more aware of their own struggles, the specific results they hope to achieve, and the intricacies of evaluations, as a way to enhance (but never disrupt) their development process. The coolest thing is that these kids intuitively understand how to value the evolution of the learning process more than the results of evaluation. Even if they don’t move to the next level, they know they are still learning and developing every single time they go to class.
It is possible they can’t answer any of your questions with great clarity, and that is okay too. Perhaps they are still too young or too focused on learning and having fun to be aware of the process or set any goals. It is also possible that the whole experience makes them anxious, and they do need extra help to interpret and understand it all. It is up to you to figure out why they can’t answer your questions and how you can help. Be present as much as you can to observe them in their class. This doesn’t mean you have to sit in the grandstands for 2-3 hours, just invest a little time at the beginning or the end of class. You can also talk to their coaches! AcroSports has some of the best coaches you could possibly ask for in your kids’ lives. You can trust them to know your kids, their potential, and their needs. They can share the specifics about what your child is working on and struggling with so that you can figure out what is preventing them from being fully engaged. The coaches can also tell you exactly what skills are being evaluated and how evaluations are conducted so that you can help your child understand what to expect.
It is possible they answer all of your questions with incredible clarity and want to go to the Olympics (I also have one of these). With these kids, you have to find a way to celebrate their ambitions and empower them to pursue their dreams while also teaching them to value the process and hold realistic expectations during evaluations. This is just as important for the kids that move quickly through the levels as it is for the kids that take longer. Those that move quickly through the lower levels will struggle (in their development) at some point and they will need to be equipped to push through their struggles without getting frustrated or looking for shortcuts. By teaching them to value the process, we are actually strengthening their existing ambitions. For those that struggle early, we want to prevent them from giving up before they hit their stride. This can be really hard for parents that are results-focused individuals so be aware of your own expectations and make sure that you don’t make it harder for your child. If you are really concerned, talk to their coaches about things you can do outside of the gym to supplement their development. The best thing you can do for them is make sure they are over-prepared for evaluations with a realistic view of their abilities and struggles as well as a plan for handling the results either way. They may still be disappointed if they don’t quite make it to the next level, but they won’t lose their ambitions (and you won’t either!). The bonus is that you may grow quite a bit in the process as well!
If you feel like you have tried everything to help your child and things are still super stressful around evaluations, come find me and let’s talk further about how you can help support them.
See you all next week! Good luck to you and your kids! Always remember - their level number is much less important than the learning and development they experience each week in class because it is so much more than just skills. They are also learning invaluable lessons in discipline, integrity, determination, friendship, perseverance, and courage. Focus on the learning!