Some more thoughts on making a difference with kids
Remember, it's about them not about you. While we all want kids
to achieve and to excel, they aren't always ready. If you're
teaching a kid something, you may have to let go of correction so
you can maintain enthusiasm. Criticize a kid or how something's done
too much, and the kid becomes discouraged.
Here's an example. A friend of mine brings kids to our climbing
group. Personally, I want the kids to make perfect knots and to use
good climbing techniques. My friend wants the kids to push on,
rather than give up, in a climb. We both cross the line a little,
but know we have to back off so that the kids enjoy the experience.
He is constantly telling them things like "You did great" and this
is encouraging to them.
We do make sure their knots are correct, but it's not necessary
to point out to them each time what they did wrong. Sometimes, one
of us will be showing a kid how to tie a knot and the child will
say, "Can you just do it?" Well, we lose the point of teaching that
particular thing but by moving on we keep the child engaged and
his/her interest keen.
When you are trying to teach a child, of course you don't want to
reinforce bad habits. But you also don't want to dull the child's
enthusiasm. So put safety first, enjoyment second, and skill level
third. Forget about perfection. A kid who enjoys an activity will
naturally want to improve and eventually will do so.
The worst that can happen if a kid doesn't get better at a
particular thing is s/he will lose interest in it and pursue
something else. The worst that can happen if you hover and nitpick
is the kid won't want to do anything.
While you don't want to play into the "self-esteem building"
nonsense that prevents kids from getting proper instruction, you do
want to be a source of information and encouragement rather than a
source of annoyance and discouragement. Watch for cues from the
kids, so you know when you're crossing the line. And be sure to look
for cues to comment on what the kid is doing right.