Probably one of the best ways to teach mental discipline to children is to let them see you struggle with it. For instance this morning Middle Daughter (age 7) wanted to come running with her sister and me. It's cold, it's early and we were at the dojo until 9 last night so we're all a touch ragged. Especially me; my legs are feeling the week's workouts and honestly, gaah, I want to stay in bed just a bit longer. But I don't. And neither do they. They get up, get ready, drink a sip of orange juice and go. We ran the full 5K with two short (i.e. 300 feet) walking breaks and two shorter pretend walking breaks we're not going to count. Middle Daughter started out strong but hit a wall around 3K and struggled for about 1K - until we turned back onto the main road and she could see, in the distance, where our street was.
We held hands for that last kilometre and chatted about how we keep going even when our legs are screaming at us to take another walking break. About how we use our mind to tell our body to shut up and run. About how sometimes even the mind wants to go and that's when we need to use our heart to tell our mind to tell the rest of us to shut up and run. Well, mostly I told her about all this while she focused on her breathing. But you know what I mean.
It's all fine and good to tell kids to work hard and not give up. But it's a lot more powerful when they get to see you struggle to work hard and not give up.
And in the end, encouraged by her bigger sister, she did it. She ran home and finished strong. Now she's eating a fine breakfast and basking in the glow of her glory.
Until next time...