Monday June 23 2014

Finding time for my books and dealing with an unhealthy competitiveness


By Carol Beyanga

I can read 20 books a month if I put my mind to it. Right now, I am reading three: Tuesdays with Morrie – whose film I have watched but mum insisted I read the book and I am enjoying it; African Violet whose short stories are as odd as they are interesting, and A Writer’s Coach, a book meant for work purposes, but which is interestingly written. And I am now going to add The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

You see, I have realised you can find the time to read as many books, if you put your mind to it, and this is how I am doing it. I read for 30 minutes when in the car as we drive to work and hubby is listening to the radio; for an hour when I happen to take a taxi (actually two taxis) back home; sometimes during lunch (bad habit but I cannot help it); and for 10 minutes before getting into bed.
That way, I can manage to get 10-50 pages read in a day, depending on the size of print, of course. I am enjoying reading totally different books at a go because I pick up information on various things at the same time. So yes, reading is the in-thing for me now. Here is hoping I keep the pace, and then move onto the movies.

At the school assembly this week, our daughter participated in various competitions. It was nice to see her so active. Halfway through though, I began to worry about what would happen when it would be time to reward the winners.

Our daughter is a great winner. But she does not take losing very well. Any time she is beaten at something by her sister or a friend, we are lucky if she just sulks. Most of the time, she will weep. So, when we were told the results would be read later, I hoped they would be done after the assembly.

Unfortunately for me, the results were read towards the end. She did not win anything. And yes, she wept like she had been given 10 hard strokes of the cane.

What had been a fun morning turned sour and we all parted on sad terms; the little girl heaving with sobs about her loss, and we, her parents frustrated at the way she handles it. It is a bit worrying because she is very good at many things. She has won lots of prizes, and is well-liked by friends and teachers.

So why she would fuss terribly over a small loss baffles me. I might have some answers though. I came across a parenting article recently that talked of how to help children like ours – those who feel they have to win everything.
The author said we parents should try not to make everything about winning. If we do, our children start to think they can only earn rewards and glory in our eyes when they win.

So consistently telling them things like, “whoever finishes their food first will be the winner and get chocolate” or “whoever finishes homework first will choose the movie to watch” keeps them trying to prove themselves and trying to win, at all costs.

When I thought about it, I realised we were culprits of that. Competing is not a bad thing, but children need to have a healthy idea of it. And crying every time they lose is not healthy.
We have got work to do.