Managing fears and picking up important life values
Post written by: CP (Denester)
From a nervous kid to a confident youth
This is Max*. He is a passionate, hardworking 12yo kid who comes to my parkour classes every week.
He deals with social anxiety among other difficult personal challenges, hence a 1-1 private indoor lesson setting. In his first two lessons, he was so nervous he couldn’t move or speak much at all. This was new to me – and very unlike “normal” coaching – but hey, I teach Parkour in hopes of making a difference, so I gave it a go. Eventually, Max warmed up to me, and for close to two years now, his progress has been in leaps and bounds (literally!). Recently, he gained tremendous control over his fear of heights. From freezing up just by standing at the top wall of Kraken Gym, to jumping with confidence at heights, it’s clear that he understands very well the limits of his body and is well-trained to react accordingly if need be. His risk assessment is evident too – he understands what fear is telling him and knows to say no to a challenge if today’s not the day.
In his first few outdoor sessions, he was quick to convert his indoor experience to new achievements despite the unforgiving concrete surfaces. True Parkour!
Picking up life values
Through our lessons, he acquired more than just physical strength. His mum shared that some of the priceless values Parkour taught him were discipline and determination. Having to focus on a goal and pushing through challenges despite countless unsuccessful attempts made him a more strong-willed person, which also translated to his academic pursuits.
He also had his share of steep learning curves. Just a week ago, in a rare moment of not thinking ahead, he attempted something dangerous and potentially life-threatening for a moment of adrenaline rush and sense of empowerment. When his mum called me after informing me about it, I was taken aback.
I recall the many times this happened to a younger me… Rooftop gaps, hanging off high places, etc. I could very much resonate with his reasons, especially for a child who struggles with confidence on a regular basis – to finally feel like he has achieved something can be a huge deal for him.
His mum and I agreed that I would speak to him about this, on how putting your entire life on the line for a temporary feeling of euphoria is not worth it, when weighed with the worry he has caused to his loved ones and the societal impact it could’ve brought to the discipline. He is a very smart kid, but for this situation, he chose the wrong challenge to reckon with.
I ended the talk with this: Fear extends to many other areas in our lives. If you feel that you’ve conquered your fear of heights, then find other types of fear that are scary, paralyzing, or discomforting, and work on them. One of which could be his social anxiety (which is our next goal, for him to attend a group class!). Yes, you can continue to push the limits of one particular ‘fear’, but it’s only when you unlock all the other limitations is when you would feel a much more lasting sense of ‘euphoria’ in your life.
Lessons from coaching Parkour, and beyond
Coaching Parkour has opened many doors for me as much as I hope it did for him. We can all teach movements, but what you teach someone beyond movement is what truly defines you as a person. Truthfully, I had no idea how I would handled this but I’ve realized that there’s more that I can share beyond my movement. I’m grateful for his mum’s trust in me to mentor her wonder child.
Here’s what his mum would like to share (in her own words):
“On the terrifying incident that happened, to be honest I wouldn’t be able to say for certain that Parkour lessons gave him ideas. I know for a fact that my son loves physical challenges and unfortunately will attempt random stuff he sees online when no one is looking, and that IS the very first reason why I agreed to sign him up for parkour. If he is going to attempt these things, I’d much rather he learns how to do them safely in a controlled (padded!) environment with a good coach. And the day when the said incident happened, perhaps if he didn’t have the confidence and skills he acquired through Parkour, something really bad might have happened had he attempted the same thing anyway. We had several long talks on this matter, and I believe that he has grown and learned much from this.
Parkour lessons has given him so much more than just physical agility/strength or heightened sense of awareness when calculating risks. He learnt that he CAN conquer hard things – the one life skill I would like to be instilled in him as young as possible. But as a parent, I have to say this – your child’s coach IS important, the right coach will be able to read what the kid is ready for, how to push their limits safely and challenge their comfort zones while looking out for their self esteem. So thank you Chen Pin! (Btw, if a fellow parent of a young child is reading this and would like to know more from the perspective of a protective mum and why I fully support my son and his coach on the pursuit of this sport, please request for my number from Chen Pin, I would love to share with you what I can)”
PS: I don’t get to video him as much as I wish I could to truly show off his progression as he isn’t all that comfortable with a camera pointed at him, but here are some videos that his mum filmed in class. (See Instagram post below)
*Name changed to protect identity.
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