December 17, 2017

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks by Lillian Sanderson

So many old sayings plant themselves in our heads and, whether we realize it or not, they affect our thinking.  I suppose some are helpful, like “haste makes waste,” but the one that has bugged me for years is “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”


Many children figure it is too late to get started in a sport or a skill if they have not been active in it since kindergarten or younger.  The teams that require try-outs expect that the players have been going to camps and have competed for years by the time they are in junior high school.  I don’t expect this to change, but it is sort of a shame for the shy or the late-starters who finally think they might want to take part.


Many of these young people who think they missed the boat look for other interests because they feel left out of the youth sports world.  Maybe they are better off and will find their passion elsewhere, but I can’t help thinking that there are some missed opportunities, and maybe the start of a pattern for years.  Many could repeat this feeling of regret throughout their lives, wishing that they took part in a sport, choir, or dance, but not attempting any of this because they feel they are “too old” to begin now.


As a child, I had very little patience for games that did not have a quick conclusion.  I avoided entering a friend’s basement if I thought that the dreaded Monopoly board was set up, and I would have to sit and count play money and wait my turn and sit and sit and sit!  It sounds comical, but this was worse than homework to me.  Over the years, I have resisted games for the most part, never learning common card games or joining groups that revolve around these activities.  Many times I have regretted this lack of game knowledge;  but when I am invited and I say how I would love to come, but must be taught how to play, the suggestion is to just come and watch.  Occasionally, I have had friends take the time to patiently teach this old dog some new tricks; and usually I enjoy the activity!


My parents loved to play cards, but I rarely played with them.  I probably made it known I wasn’t interested and then they stopped asking me to play.  In my family’s defense, I was quite a bundle of energy and pretty stubborn too, but I do wish they had found a way to coax me.


Including your kids in games, whether they are outdoors and throwing a ball or on the floor with a board game, is a way to help them become good sports and to gently instruct them about the way to play and have fun with other people.  The more exposure they have to simple competition, the less harrowing their fear of losing.  Building their confidence as a social person who is fun to be with is a great goal, even if they are not athletes on the select team.


I have learned that one is never too old to learn “new tricks,” since I am one who began many learning adventures as an adult.


I am still not too fond of Monopoly, but I am enjoying learning to play Chess!


Lillian is a midwestern mother of 5 grown children and a grandmother of 10.








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