I grew up in the age of Nintendo, watching my older siblings play Mario 2 and Zelda in the frog of our house, beating levels and mashing buttons in a way that pre-school me was amazed by. When ever I could, I would sneak a turn on the controller, but the games all seemed beyond me. I had no idea how they did it. The puzzles were too hard, the movements required a control I didn’t have, it was mystifying.
Way later in life, like my twenties, I went on a nostalgia game binge. I found that you could play an old RPG favorite called Dragon Warrior online. As I played the game, I realized that this game wasn’t hard, I just didn’t quite understand it when I was a kid. I could have figured out some of this with help.
I know this sounds simplistic, but I think its extremely important to remember that kids are drawing conclusions about how the world works all the time. They experiment with their environment, and all opinions are formed on their data and their perception. Sometimes what they see is stunningly accurate, other times adorably wrong.
Helping your kids learn to think through things is your job and mine as well.
Two areas this comes up a lot. Children often try things, and often give up. They try new sports, they try to do a cannon ball, they try pickled beets.
But when presented with a task that doesn’t come easy, they may surmise that they just can’t do it. This is because they haven’t internalized the attitude of grit, of pushing through the frustration to the knowledge that nothing can stop you if you keep trying.
Another area is with behavior. They behave in ways that make some kind of rational sense to them in the moment. All the little border skirmishes he got more than me or she poked me or whatever. But when things go bad, they often don’t understand why. And worse yet, they don’t understand how to make it better.
Kids today are growing up in a world that is infinitely complex. But if this was the 1700’s, the world to a child would still be infinitely complex. Helping your child interpret data and react to it correctly is a part of the martial arts in my opinion.
At the end of the day, I am trying to create little students that choose well. Choose well in the heat of a hard roll, and choose well in the heat of life too.