When Bananno Pisano designed the Tower of Pisa, he had hoped for a magnificently tall and strong structure.  What finally eventuated after many years of painful construction was a wonky tower.  Why?  The foundations were too small and the ground too soft.  The weight of the growing tower could not be supported.  Children are no different to the tower.  Excuse the bad comparison but their future success is created in their foundation years.  Everything after, like the tower, is repairs or catch up.  Let’s address a couple of ingredients that go into the foundations, namely discipline and of course, movement.


For today’s blog post, discipline will incorporate knowing ‘right-from-wrong’, work ethic and inner-resilience.  The ability to decipher between good and bad is established well before a child can get in trouble with the law or even suspended from high school.  It’s what they observe in those early years that becomes the status quo.  We can all tell a 15-year old to obey the law but if they’ve seen their old man live a life of crime then, more often the not, it will be passed on to the next generation.   Moral choices are blueprinted by following the leadership of the people they interact with the most.  Another example that’s closer to home, children treating maids like sub-humans.  Now where would you suppose they get that from?


Work ethic (WE) might not be a teachable subject at school but it will have a rather large part to play in a child’s future success.  WE is a trait developed by the frequency and intensity of their training.  Situations where WE can be developed include, carrying the shopping bags into the house, doing homework consistently on time, playing outside, helping in the garden or getting a part-time job.    It’s simple, there is the choice of screen time or slog time.  The more slog time they get, the more they will handle it better.  It’s about creating kids who wake up excited and go to bed exhausted.


Building inner resilience is an aspect of parenting that I believe is ignored in today’s generation.  Example, at the BJJ gym I go to there are 101 different nationalities.  As always, nobody wants to wrestle with the Russians / Eastern Europeans.  Technically they are not that good but their minds are made of steel.  I’ll guarantee that they were not mollycoddled as kids by helicopter parents.  When you travel, you realize how soft westerners are.  At school, my son is the only one who has to carry his own bag.  The other parents look at me scornfully and want tosay “let me carry your poor defenseless son’s bag”.  I don’t care if pampering is the norm.  I will not contribute to building a soft adult who fails in life because I did not prepare him adequately. 


Movement and skill-development are obvious forms of training that are built at a surprisingly young age.  Take crawling for example. Unfortunately I’ve come across a fair number of kids who were never allowed to crawl / play on the floor and this has severely messed them up in later life.  The absence of bilateral-coordination means they struggle in pretty much everything from running to catching to all sports.  The good news is that a parent does not need to be a Kinesiologist.  They simple need to play a lot with their kid in a wide range of environments.  Other domino affects include the monkey bars and relative body strength.  The opportunity to play on the bars strengthens joints and tissues.  A brave friend of mine recently had to go to the defense of the school yard monkey bars.  Her child broke his arm which caused outrage amongst some Commando Helicopter Parents.  They demanded that the monkey bars be pulled down!  Little did they understand that they would have been disabling hundreds of children from their right to develop.


We all have hopes and dreams for our children.  Some of us desire that our kids are professional sports stars while others just want them to be fit and healthy.  The reality is our children’s future will be determined by their level of training and not what we wish for.  At Tribal Fitness, aside from the obvious movement, we like to think that we play an important role in building good morals, a strong work ethic and an inner resilience.


Craig Heslop