Knowing When To Back Off
Watching a gymnast trying to fix a full turn on beam by herself. Rush over there to give her the one instruction from you she needs or backing off for a minute or two to see if she figures it out on her own?
Hearing your 14 year old daughter crying in her room because her boy friend acted like an idiot and treated her poorly. Rush in with all of the words of wisdom or give her a couple of minutes for this “guy bad behavior” to sink in?
Handing your top student a test with their 1st “non A” grade. Offer comforting, motivating words to get them over the disappointment? Back off and let it sink in for a couple of minutes.
Backing off allows education. Backing off allows “contemplation.” Backing off allows learning to happen without someone else being in control of the results. Sure, as parents, teachers and coaches we could lessen the pain or the disappointment or the sadness but is that the best thing to do at the moment? If you want to be protective, sure, step in before they have a chance to think for themselves about the situation. But if you want to be an educator. If you want them to think for themselves. If you want them to learn to evaluate on their own and form some of their own thoughts about difficult situations, back off for a minute or two.
The most enjoyable times for me as a coach, teacher and parent have been when I hid in the corner and watched kids figuring out difficult situations. Thrilling were the feelings when the light went off in their heads. Thrilling when they came to me and said proudly “I got it.” Does it matter if you tell your 14 year old daughter that her boy friend isn’t the one or she comes out of her room after crying and she declares to you “I shouldn’t be treated by a guy like that because I am more important then that.”
Does the lesson sink in more? Does the lesson stay longer for future “I remember that” moments?
I choose backing off for a couple of special, precious, important moments as I have confidence in these kids to figure some things out. On their own. Without me. (But is it really without us?)