There are three things parents have to teach their children before they are seven years old. Otherwise…it’s too late. And if you don’t teach your child these three things consider yourself a crappy parent. I should know.
#1 Teach your kid how to ride a bike and start when they are young. It’s not easy, it takes a lot of patience and running around. Your child is going to cry and get mad at you. They will want to give up, but don’t let them. Take the time to hold the back of the bike seat and run up and down the parking lot or side walk.
Learning to ride a bike when you are young is easy and not nearly as scary because you’re a short person on a short bike, you are close to the ground and you don’t look like a complete doooof if you are wearing all kinds of elbow and knee pads, extra underwear and a football helmet.
Little kids fall down all the time, it’s not that big a deal. But when grownups fall down it’s a monumental embarassment. Kids fall down then pop back up. Adults fall down then miss work for a week.
I failed to teach Mary how to ride a bike. So my beautiful, brilliant 21 year old daughter still needs one training wheel.
#2. Teach your child to swim, or let somebody else do it. First there’s the safety side of the equation. Unless you live in the Middle East your child will spend time around water, lakes and pools, he’ll end up on a boat. Accidents happen, kids push each other off docks so make sure your child knows how to swim.
Learning to swim as an adult is frightening and nearly impossible. Children belive in magic so they have faith when you tell them they can float. They trust adults and will allow us to teach them to swim.
When adults try to learn to swim they are terrified because they know the reality of the situation. If they go under they will die. The adult brain also interferes with the learning process. A two hundred pound man may know he can float but he doesnt’ believe his great big fat body will stay on top of the water. So he thrashes around, sinks, gets water up his nose and gives up. The end.
Teach your child to swim to the edge of the pool and to hold on before they are one year old.
Your kid doesn’t have to be an olympic swimmer, they don’t need to know all the strokes including the butterfly, but they better know how to float and how to get to the shallow end of the pool.
When a child learns to swim it’s cute, when an adult tries to learn to swim it’s embarassing and sad.
#3. Finally, please teach your child how to shake hands. Again, do it when they are little bitty so it’s not a big deal. All you have to remember is “firm grip and eye contact”. Their lives will be better with this one simple skill.
When Jack was 13 or 14 he decided he wanted to look like an absolute freak, bright red mohawk, suspenders, plaid golf pants. Still, he had a great handshake, he knew how to look an adult in the eye and act like a man so coaches, teachers and ministers cut him some slack and still loved him. Grown men let him date their beautiful daughters in part, I believe, because he had an excellent hand shake.
If a kid has a pathetic handshake I generally think they are weak, sneaky, or stupid. I can’t help it. And yes, I know lots of scummy, slimy people have great handshakes. But do your child a favor. Start shaking hands with them when they are two years old. Then you can move on to the high five and knuckle bump.