It’s not generally a good thing when your kids fight each other. Whether it’s the whiny refrain of ‘I’m not touching you!’ or ‘Mum, she’s BREATHING on me,’ it’s enough to drive a parent crazy. A while back, I was introduced to an … alternative approach. It’s a more down-to-earth version of this phenomenon I read about online. In Japan, some corporate spaces have a hologram room to help its employees de-stress. And yes, it’s exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from Japan. In this hologram room, staff members can programme a VR experience of their choice.
They could spend time on a virtual beach, go on a date, or even punch a hologram of their demanding boss. It helps them let off steam in a healthy way, as long as they’re not doing anything illegal. Of course for my kids, I prefer something a little more … grounded in reality. So I thought about letting them work off their sibling rivalry in a safe, carefully monitored, keenly supervised environment. Sports seemed like a good starting point.
Contact sports FTW!
I figures the kids could be competitive without being toxic, and I could merge their after-school-activity run, which means more free time for me! I looked around for activities offered at their school, or in community clubs. Lots of our youth centres offer team sports, but I wanted something they could do at home too. So my criteria included paired activities rather than team clubs. That narrowed it down to things like tennis, badminton, fencing, or martial arts.
There’s a youth club near home that offers all these activities and more, so I cycled the kids through them. They tried each activity for a few weeks before we settled on boxing training in Sydney. I liked it because they can practice in the yard, or even on the porch when the weather is less than friendly. It doesn’t need much equipment, just some skipping rope and boxing gloves for home sessions. At their club, they can access punching bags, boxing rings, and sparring tools.
I like that it gives them a full body work-out. Kids can start training as soon as they can walk, and it helps their balance and motor skills. The kids don’t really get into proper technique until age four or five, and they can turn competitive at age 10, joining tournaments and contest circuits. I like that my kids’ boxing club has produced global champs, so there’s something tangible to aspire to. I also like that their coaches have a verifiable track record.
Of course I’m talking from a parent’s perspective here, so I decided I should get some input from the kids themselves. They said they like hitting things and not getting into trouble for it. And they like knowing they can defend themselves. That last part set off my protective parent alarm, so I asked them what they need to defend themselves from. Bullies, they said, and thieves.
I asked if they were being harassed at school, or in our neighbourhood. They said not really, because the mean kids ‘know not to mess with them.’ My daughter was especially emphatic. She said during recess, some kids pick on the little ones. Nobody likes to be a tattle-tale, so they don’t want to tell the teachers. But she said she likes knowing she can fight back, and that she sometimes protects the smaller children from being targeted.
I should probably have a chat with their teacher about that, just to be sure I’m not inspiring school yard brawls. But it did give me pause, because there’s so much talk about helicopter parenting. It does feel good to see my daughter proud of her own sense of agency. And I like that she’s thinking about defending those who can’t defend themselves. It shows character, and that makes me one proud mama. Plus, my twins box is a good gender model.
My son – who’s a few minutes younger than his sister – says he likes the predictability. He has to be at gym at certain times of day, and practice for a set number of hours. That surprised me, because we hear a lot about kids needing routine and structure, but we also hear about the joy of unplanned play. In the 50s, where kids were left to their own devices and could play however, wherever, whenever, and with whatever they wanted.
They’d ivent their own games and entertain themselves until dinner. So it’s enlightening to see my kids wanting some kind of planned, guided supervision. And because amateur boxing tournaments focus on points and targeted hits instead of blood and gore, I worry less about hospital bills and injury. Clearly, boxing works for my family, and it could work for yours too.