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Friday, March 09, 2007


One of the problems some parents have is motivating their son to want to do well academically. Some ten and eleven year old boys appear to be a little unfocused at times. This is where a little work on bonding could help.

We know that the New Zealand rugby squad have been away on a three month training and development course. The emphasis, we believe, has been on physical and mental development. The World Cup is approaching and the New Zealand team want to be winners.

A huge and fearsome man lived on a farm about ten miles from where I went to school. He played rugby for the Springboks. He did not have access to the training facilities that are available to today’s rugby professionals. He trained by running across ploughed fields. He did not have training partners but he did maintain a large herd of donkeys. To practice his tackling he would tackle a donkey. We were all in awe of this mountain of a man. Every year our first rugby team were taken to his farm to watch his incredibly demanding and unusual training schedule.

I few years ago I had the privilege of taking a three week trip on the `Lord Nelson’. This is a ship designed to allow people with disabilities to enjoy the challenge of the sea. It was an incredible experience to share the excitement of people in wheelchairs being hauled up the mast. A trip like that, where the able bodied have to share the emotions and lives of the less physically able, is illuminating.

So how then does this leave our ten year old boy? Sending him away on a three month `toughening’ course is not all that attractive. (I bet, however, at times it is!) Learning to tackle donkeys is equally repulsive.

But thinking about others – learning to care and share - might be the answer. So develop a pragmatic `Five Step’ routine:

Step One: Clean the interior of the family car on a regular basis.

Step Two: Organise at least two cups of tea a day.

Step Three: Pick up all clothes - without being asked.

Step Four: Vow to do at least fifteen minutes a day on papers – without being reminded.

Step Five: Take a weekly apple to the teacher at school to show appreciation.

As a parent rejoice in your kind and thoughtful child.

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