It’s pretty common knowledge that family teaching family can be a prickly thing. Just ask any wife how much she enjoys having her husband correct her putt putt golf stroke (“it’s your follow-through, dear”), or her fly casting (“not three o’clock, TWO o’clock…darling”), or her clays shooting (“you were behind that, um, sweetheart…”). Now. Try having a wife “instruct” her husband. (“you were behind that, sugah…“ Yea, right.)
Same goes for kids, I’ve learned. Sure, you may be a pro, but when it comes to helping your child learn a new sport, you might want to step back from time to time. Believe me, I know. This past summer, I tried to teach my son to cast using a flyrod – and it wasn’t fun for either of us (“I KNOW mom, that’s what I AM doing”). At a certain point, it’s best to turn it over to someone else — sometimes it might just take an hour with someone new. That was the case with my son.
Just one hour was all it took to transform the kid. It begs an interesting psychology: somehow he felt he had done this on his own. He was confident and happy; he had been praised by someone whom he admired, and he felt like a winner. It was a great lesson for both of us in that now we are able to fish together and he is willing to listen and I am willing to instruct less.
The takeaway when instructing a loved one:
1. When instructing, the less you say, the better. Compliment the successes and lighten up on the direction.
2. If your student gets testy and stops listening or becomes defensive, back off — and don’t you dare be testy too!
3. At this point, you risk losing the person’s interest in the sport altogether. Now it’s time to find a different teacher — possibly for good, or maybe just to get past this bump in the road.
4. When your student comes back, don’t jump back in on the instruction. Compliment how well he/she is doing and just leave him/her alone.
5. When the time comes to work with your student again, make it as positive as possible. Look, you don’t do the things you hated learning to do. Same will go for your kid, spouse, or friend — so make it a happy time and chances are, your student will want to go back out with you again and again.