Parenting Lessons from the Cricket Field

family-playing-cricket-beach-19683791This blog post has been reproduced with permission from Parent Edge, a leading Parenting magazine in India.

I have been a fan of cricket for as long as I remember. Though I don’t have the time or the inclination to watch every match that is aired on TV anymore, I do follow the progress of the Indian team with great interest and sneak a peek at the occasional IPL match. And so, it is with much delight that I have been tracking the spectacular performance of young Team India at the Champions Trophy. I thought about what may have caused such a dramatic turnaround. To be termed the best time on view and, what’s more, the best fielding side in the tournament is no mean achievement. What can we, as parents, learn from this?

Instill self-belief: To me the biggest factor in this transformation is the belief this bunch of 20 somethings have in themselves. They do not care too much for past records, nor do they seem to worry all that much about media and expert opinion. Instead they are oozing with confidence and a can-do spirit. Likewise, in our interactions with children, if we can consistently demonstrate that we believe in them, and that they should back themselves, it can go a long way in making them well rounded, confident and purposeful.

The sum is greater than the parts: The current Indian team is devoid of legends- it has no individuals who overshadow the team with their individual talent or their personality. However, as a team they seem to be performing way beyond expectations. And that is the second lesson- as parents, all of us are eager to make our children feel very special. Our focus is all the time on honing their talent and sharpening their skills. Not to say that we should stop doing that, but can we also educate children, even as they are growing up, on the importance of doing things together, looking out for each other, and developing a genuine sense of team-spirit? In this super competitive world, I think this is really important.

Learn to spot the hidden levers: Dhoni has been crying himself hoarse for a long time now on the need for fresh legs on the field. I must admit that even I at times thought the point was being exaggerated. But, I stand corrected. The fielding by India has been top notch, and has proved to be a great source of “competitive advantage”. Swift and canny fielders have saved precious runs and, as importantly, got critical breakthroughs. There is an important insight for parents here- often, we emphasize the obvious things- like, learn to bat well, or become a good bowler- but miss laying emphasis on the seemingly peripheral related areas. There are many related aspects that add up to delivering a good performance and often by ignoring an area that does not seem like the core, we may end up under-performing. Children will be prone to be carried away by the obvious. It is up to parents to do a more complete assessment of any situation and guide children.

Build resilience: Another most important lesson (linked to the point on self belief) is that there are going to be ups and downs, but if we stay committed, and do the right thing, the tide will turn. Team India has demonstrated this beyond doubt under the astute stewardship of Dhoni. As parents, if we can do the same with our children- back them when they fall, help them stand up and run again, all the time teaching them that all of this is par for the course, we would be taking important steps in building resilience in our children. To me, resilience is the single most important attribute needed to make something of yourself, and it is better to start young!

Written by Sudha Kumar

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