All parents want to see their children do well in sports. It doesn’t matter if it’s football, baseball, soccer, a martial art, or fencing. The desire to see our kids do well can be somewhat overwhelming. As a result, a lot of fencing parents try to push their children to get better and better when in reality that isn’t really the type of support they need.
Success versus Failure
You very likely put your child into fencing for some very healthy reasons – focus, discipline, concentration, and physical coordination among them. Acquiring some level of skill in fencing is a given, but every new fencer will progress at their own rate. You simply can’t, as a parent, compare your child to any other, especially when it comes to competition. Fencing tournaments aren’t the end-all-be-all when it comes to the overall experience. Win or lose, the kids who show up and do the hard work are all winners – taking steps to become more skilled and masterful with each experience. As long as your children are progressing, they are seeing success.
The better your child feels about fencing, the faster his skill level will improve. Children who feel as though their efforts are validated when they work hard will continue to work hard. They’ll end up doing better in practice and in competition. So how do you build a young fencer’s self-esteem? The most important thing is to not tear them down when they are having trouble or struggling with a new technique or concept. Practice makes perfect. Let your children know how proud you are of their efforts and of the hard work they are putting in. Let them know you can see improvement. Be sincere and your words will make a huge impact.
You Aren’t the Coach
While your children do need your support, they do not need you to be their coach. Your job is to encourage your young fencers, get them to their training sessions, support them in their ups and downs, and generally provide support. Allow your child’s fencing coach to be the expert when it comes to training, technique, strategy, and technical advice. Keeping these roles separate will not only allow your child to grow as a fencer, but will strengthen your bond as well.
Constantly encourage your children to challenge themselves and support them through their personal successes and failures. Your child’s fencing career does not define them as a human being. And remember, your dreams and goals aren’t their dreams and goals. They’re their points, not yours!