Perseverance: A Parent’s Best Friend

father and son on the ice

After learning to love hockey like his dad, my son is no longer afraid of the Zamboni machine.

It was the second time I had taken my son skating. Both times, he spent about 60 per cent of the time crying.

Thank goodness the hour was almost up, I was tired and running out of ideas on how to make this skate — well, walk — on the ice fun for my crying toddler. At times, I wanted to scoop him up in my arms, carry him off the ice and tell him not to worry that he didn’t have to learn how to skate, anyway.

The truth is, if he didn’t skate, it would probably break my heart.

I love hockey and I play as often as I can; it’s the stable exercise I participate in every week. My son seemed to like hockey too, but the skates and cold ice made learning to skate a negative experience.

As we were standing at the Zamboni door, the buzzer went, startling my toddler. I reassured him and let him know everything was going to be alright. Just as it seemed like he was going to choke back the tears, BANG! The Zamboni metal door had zipped up and made an earth-shattering sound.

My son burst into tears and out came a horrible shriek; I thought the metal door had jumped down and slapped him in the cheek. I asked him what was wrong and though he barely got the words out, I understood. He thought the Zamboni was going to run us over.

The Challenge

That day was the beginning of an uphill battle for my son to put on skates that lasted about four months. We would go to the rink and wrestle the skates on, and cry either on the ice or looking at the ice during public skate. At about month two, the crying began to weaken, but there was reluctance to skate. At month three, there was little crying, but the reluctance to skate lingered on. At month four, a stride here and there began to form, and at the beginning of month five, he was starting to chase me and have fun on the ice.

There were many conversations about trying things and being scared and not liking things that transpired over the course of that time. (You can imagine talking about those things with a two year old.) There was also some discussion and consequences for unacceptable behavior in public, all life lessons that set the expectations for many activities down the road.

Two years later, he was one of the best players on his team and he does not stop playing hockey. He plays at home, school and even tries to bring his mini stick nets on our vacations.

By telling this story, I am not at all trying to teach you how to make hockey players out of your children, but it is a lesson that is important for all parents to learn.

Son playing hockey

Two years later, my guy became one of the best players on his team, playing hockey at home, school and even on vacation!

I could have completely given up on my son skating and took the path of least resistance. I believed my son would eventually start to enjoy it.

Lessons learned

It was hard work to get him over that hump on his part and mine, but we persevered and now he has a passion for a healthy activity. (I know some may disagree with hockey being healthy — we are not in it for the competition or violence, we love the game).

As parents, it is our job to take our children by the hand and guide them through life. Sometimes, it feels more like we are dragging them and it is difficult, but in the end, the parent’s wisdom should come through.

My story shows that a parent can persevere through the struggles they think will lead their children down the right path.

This leads into a process where the child can start making good decisions for themselves. If they have witnessed their parents helping them make wise decisions, they will be sure to make better decisions for themselves. The process eventually develops into a gradual release of responsibility from the parent to the child, and starts as soon as the child begins to be able to express their own desires.

It is important to be aware and nurture your daughters or sons along and help them to make the best decisions so that they will be able to do it for themselves, or even possibly for their own little one in the future.

Being active and healthy can be hard work. If we start our children off on the right path, we will help them make the choices necessary to enjoy activity.

It is important to remember that a gradual release of responsibility should occur as children become more aware of how to manage their lives. We, as parents, must understand that all of this is no easy task and that we can help our children learn how to make choices and develop a passion for activities that make us healthier people.

While I bet the sound of the Zamboni door going up still send shivers up my son’s spine, he now loves to skate. Those four months of perseverance was worth it for both of us!

30 January 2013 by