Some of you who’ve been following me for a while – or who have watched the Parents’ Masterclass, will remember me saying that you are “a mirror to your child”. Our children learn to handle challenges and life situations by watching those closest to them – and most especially their parents.
Well here’s a challenge for you. Christmas is upon us. The lead up will have been stressful and the holiday itself (which spreads pretty much over the entire week up to New Year) will be even more so in some cases.
Are you a perfectionist? Are you stressing about every little detail of the day – from when the children can open their presents to how the turkey should be carved and exactly what trimmings go where and beating yourself up over the state of your mince pies? Are you a control freak over the decoration of the tree?
And you can’t think why your child might be a perfectionist? Look in the mirror.
When things don’t go according to your (dream) plans and the turkey is drying out, the gravy is lumpy, the guests are late, the in-laws are making snide comments and the children are squabbling… how do you respond? Can you laugh about it and make the best of things and stay relaxed, or are you muttering at your other half through gritted teeth, bordering on the ‘explosion imminent’ setting? Or perhaps you retire to your room in tears because the ‘whole day is ruined’?
And how does your child react when they have a bad competition skate? Look in the mirror.
Now I’m not trying to play the blame game here, but 80% of the skaters who come to me are perfectionists. Around 90% have a hard time dealing with a bad skate and a fair few have developed temper tantrums on the ice before they start working with me. They learned to deal with setbacks from somewhere…
This Christmas season, take a moment to think about the example you are setting when in a stressful situation. Focus instead on what is really important. Having a roof over your head, dinner on the table and spending quality time with your family and friends. When many others in the world don’t even have that as a starting point. The rest – the details – are simply the trimmings. A bonus. Start with simplicity – the foundations – and build on them one step at a time. Your children will thank you for it by learning and imitating your ability to handle the challenges. And your body will thank you for it too – running on stress hormones for any length of time is exceedingly damaging to your health – physically and mentally. Enjoy each moment as it comes and take some time out to look after yourself. Put your oxygen mask on first before you start dealing with everybody else.
In skating – getting anxious about every little thing which could go wrong, means a skater is focusing on what they don’t want. And we know it’s far more important and effective to focus on what you do want. Keep it simple. A clean, confident skate for starters. Great marks are the trimmings and podium places and accolades are the proof that is in the pudding.