Fatherhood Odyssey: When Teaching, Make It Fun Before You Make It Right

While homeschooling my two sons, I witnessed my younger one just in the midst of that special phase where you learn to read and begin to make sense of words. And I (once more) realized the importance of fun: When teaching a new skill, don’t stress out about getting it right and avoiding mistakes. Don’t constantly correct every mistake. Instead, teach how to have fun with that skill, and afterwards the momentum of fun carries you forward like a stone rolling downhill, rather than it being an uphill battle.


There’s something interesting about teaching a kid, how to read, because we just had the conversation on the podcast about reading the love for reading, how to read books and how we have these, all these bad habits that are ingrained into us from school, because that’s what we learned to read and this something interesting.
[00:00:19]Around how you teach your children, your relationship around books. So when you want to teach them a love for reading, for instance, I thought my oldest, I thought would be a huge, I thought both, both of my kids would love reading books at a very young age. Why? Number one, I love books. I constantly read books while they’re around.
[00:00:39] They see me reading books. They know, I love books. And then when there were very young, two years, three years, four years, five years old, I would always read books to them, read them children’s books during the day and definitely every night before going to sleep. And then as I told you, my oldest learned very early on to have a read on his own and started writing very early and then started writing stories that we started making up stories.
[00:01:03]Because at some point. Both of them were not interested in the same kind of book. So I started telling stories and then that developed that tradition, that famous tradition we have now where every night. I come up with a new story for them. They give me new words and I have to invent a new story.
[00:01:19] Based on those words. It doesn’t matter if I’m there in person. When I travel, I record that story and I send it over via text to their mom and they played the story while they’re in bed, by the way, yesterday’s review of my story. You want to hear it? I sent a 10 minute story and you know what? I got back.
[00:01:37]Four minutes of your story were total crap that for
[00:01:48] greetings your son Georges, that’s what I got. That’s what I got from my effort. You know, four minutes of your 10 minute story. It was total garbage. So dope four minutes that so, so by now their older cousin is in on the whole thing. This makes it even more complicated. Now I have to wait for my kids to send me to tell me their words, but also their cousin texts me his word.
[00:02:18] I have to send him the story as well. He’s like a year older than my oldest. So now there’s like my two children and my nephew that I write the stories for. And then I had like, sometimes I have good days. Sometimes I have bad days. I also have to teach my children not to take me for granted because they totally do.
[00:02:36] Right. So four or five days ago, they sent me a voice message. And there were both upset that my stories lately have only been eight to nine minutes and not even longer than 10 minutes. And that. That socks. And also one of my sons was like, dad, when I told you this word, I really wanted you to make the story about somebody that does this and this and this and this, some total different interpretation of his work than mine.
[00:03:04] Right? And then I sent them a voice message back. And I said, dudes, I love you guys. And I love telling you stories, but realize this is not an obligation. I don’t owe you this. You don’t have a birthright. For me to tell you a stories, be for these stories to be the exact required length that you like indeed for them to have perfect interpretations of what you wanted that word to mean.
[00:03:33] No, I love you. And every story I record is a gift. I like to do long stories when I can. I’ve sent you many stories that were fucking 15 minutes long. Sometimes I tell a story that seven minutes long. It is what it is, but I’m not gonna, you know, when you allow your children very quickly, you can get into the, turn them into tyrants and you’re slaving away to please them.
[00:04:00] And I’ve done this with the stories as well. I don’t want to just pretend that I never do this, but this time around, I kind of checked them and I said, no, If you are ungrateful, I can record no stories and I’m still a fucking amazing father, so, okay. It’s good. And I told them, I like, when you give me feedback, you can tell me it would be nice if it’s even longer, that’s fine.
[00:04:25] But you can’t demand that they have to be a certain length, right? No. So, well, he didn’t demand from me. Tell better stories yesterday. He just told me that four minutes of my 10 minutes story was total garbage. Two to two, which I have to agree yesterday was probably one of the worst stories of the year, but to my defense.
[00:04:50] I had to record the story between two different calls and I was outside on my way to pick up dinner and it was so cold and windy and I really didn’t have any creative ideas and I was freezing and I was in a hurry. And so it was kind of a shitty story. Right. I have to agree. I have to fully agree with this assessment of, um, but anyway, so, you know, I’ve been telling them stories and then they started, I mean, George’s has been.
[00:05:17] Um, coming up with horror stories and writing his little horror books. And then both of them have been dictating stories to me with at least 20 stories. I’ve written with my kids, right. Where they come up with ideas and I write it on my laptop in a, in an Evernote for them. And so I thought the love for storytelling and stories would translate also to a love for reading, which hasn’t happened for the past, you know, two years or so.
[00:05:43] They don’t, they don’t pick up books on their own. They don’t read. And they’re not even interested in me reading to them. I recently had an attempt of reading them, Harry Potter. And again, I could tell my oldest was sort of into it, but my youngest was totally not into it. And so it was kind of a tough audience, but one, um, thing that I try to remember when it comes to teaching my kids, some of these things that are easily forget is that.
[00:06:09]No, you want to teach your children a love for something. If you can, you want to help them fall in love with something you don’t want to force them to become competent at things. And so. Especially in the early days of being introduced to something, doesn’t matter if it’s playing an instrument and, um, a hobby, an activity you want to show them fall in love with it, and you will not allow them on their own time to decide when they want to fall in love with it.
[00:06:42] Because once they fall in love with something and they want to do it, and it’s fun to do it. Then them getting better at it and all that debt figures itself out. And you can figure that out later. I remember PG wrote, uh, a tweet once he writes really insightful parent tweets. Sometimes it’s a bit tough because his quotes of his eight year old and six year old are.
[00:07:06] You know, you can tell he two geniuses as children. So it’s tough for, for normal parents to compare our children with the kind of things his children say and do. But, um, he does, he does really eat tweets, really insightful things about Parenthood. And once we, he was. Saying something about teaching his like coding with one of his, his children, like teaching him some very basic coat and then saying how his child’s code.
[00:07:33] If I remember correctly was not good or elegant, right. It just was working. But he said in the early days, just make it fun for them. So they fall in love and they’ll learn how to do it right later. Don’t try to teach them how to do it right in the first step. Because that’s going to Rob them of all the joy and fun and lightheartedness.
[00:07:54] And once they’re hating it or finding it a chore or complicated or difficult or intimidating, they’ll never get into this. This is something that I’m trying to do better this time around, around books. Right. So I test the waters. I see. They’re not into it. I’m not forcing it. Right. I’m not giving them speeches about how important books are I just go, all right.
[00:08:18] Not now. Right later, it took me fucking 16 years to fall in love with books. I was 16 when I read my first book. So they got plenty of time. They don’t have to love it. And right now,
[00:08:29]when I didn’t do this as well was when I was teaching them more tie. When I was training, we tied with him once in a while, cause in were tie. I would teach them how to do a few moves. They would always want to, like, they would not do the move correctly or they wanted to do their own variation of it. Or there were like one, like they want it training with tie with that to feel like playing and not serious training.
[00:08:56] Yeah.
[00:09:01] Yes. I mean, I was not a total douche about it, but well,
[00:09:09] but I still was at times, especially when, when my oldest was like, well, but I want to do a completely different thing. That’s just more fun. And I don’t care about anything. You show me. I would step into a. Hey, sometimes you need to have discipline, right? Do what your trainer’s telling you kind of a role, which he didn’t enjoy at all for obvious reasons.
[00:09:29] And so I was not, so I was not able at that time to teach them in a way that they would madly fall in love with it. They like it. And we still train once in a while. But at that time I was a bit too serious, bit too tense. And I, you know, I. If you compare the way I train my kids more Ty, and I know, you know, I’m not a great motive fighter, right?
[00:09:58] And I grew up in a culture with no war tie whatsoever. If you compare that with how ties in Thailand, teach children would tie fighters in Thailand, learn more Thai as children. Right. There’s usually a bunch of children that for whatever reason are going to, you know, getting basically adopted by the gym and kind of live at the gym other than going to school.
[00:10:23] Right. And when you see how Tice amazing tie gyms ties, how they teach children, it’s completely different than what we would do in the West. It’s sort of just like they never correct technique. Right. They never tell the children. No, you have to move your hip this way. Do it the right way. It all, it seems like almost they don’t care.
[00:10:45] They’re just like hit this 10 times. Alright. Now hit this 10 times right now, punch this right now, go over there and do something else. I don’t want to be bothered by you anymore. And then like when they turn around, they’re all right, come back. Now. We’ll do this thing. And most of the time there’s zero correction.
[00:11:02] There’s no speeches. There’s nothing. They just allow the kids to train and move. And there’s a sort of a certain inherent trust that children in that age are such sponges of learning the technique. Correct. Almost itself over time, they just start observing all the other adults that are training in slowly, but surely they just do it better and better.
[00:11:27] They’re so flexible. So open. They’re not tense. They haven’t learned it the wrong way. They’re just learning to move and the training intensity and the corrections and the speeches and all that. The demands, the. Increase as the child matures and grows up as well. Right. It’s a very gradual process, but the beginning it’s just like, let’s make this fun.
[00:11:51] Let’s just move. Yeah. Even, even when I was like studying, uh, like Thai massage at the LA potent temple, right. Even there, I was like, Oh, okay. Do you have like all these, you know, Points, acupressure points, energy lines, this there, this, uh, right at this point beyond the end, I was like, and most of the people like me were like, Oh, but wait, wait, wait here or here.
[00:12:13] And the teacher said like, what do you think is, uh, uh, I don’t know, you’re the teacher. And it’s like always wanting the exact same point that the exact. Pulling the exact technique. What is the next thing? And they’re like, no, just learn. Just not like the flow of the muscle, like learn the overall routine first from beginning to end.
[00:12:31] It’s fine. If you push the wrong point here or there, but get the whole for the whole thing. So they care about the holistic thing first and then gradually, gradually, gradually as you do, as you know, similar way. Uh, they, they don’t correct technique or details in the beginning, which to me was so foreign.
[00:12:48] Right. If I pushed the wrong point. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, this is a completely foreign way of doing things in the West. You go wait a second. Two of the four steps I’m doing are not correct. Why aren’t you telling me? Why is it somebody stopping me taking a red pen and correcting every mistake that I made.
[00:13:08] Right. And it’s well, because if we did it this way, we will slow you down to a dead end halt and you will never come back and not learn anything in the, as a beginner. Most of what you’re doing should be wrong. If it’s fun and if every time you’re doing it, you’re learning a little bit. Would you get a bit more comfortable you’re on your week, right?
[00:13:32] Learning is happening. You know, the learning is happening. Think about like teaching a child, how to walk this way. Like, let, let me tell, let me read you this book about body mechanics. Let me tell you about the exact. You know, positioning of everything, like nobody would ever learn anything this way. What do they do?
[00:13:50] They just observe everybody else. They have an urge, a love, a curiosity to try do, you know, extent themselves, the way they see everybody else extend themselves and walk on two feet and they fall and they fall and they just feel the way too. Walking to that new skill development. Nobody’s teaching them shit.
[00:14:12] No parent is ever taught a child how to walk a child, learns how to walk completely on their own. Basically you might be encouraging the child. But you’re not teaching the child. You couldn’t, I don’t know how to teach. If you told me, write down on two pieces of paper, your basic course on walking, you’ve done it 38 years.
[00:14:31] You must know how it works. What I write? I don’t know. I just do so like, can you make somebody fall in love with it or can you make something fun? Is a much more powerful ingredient to, will you give this person. The ability to learn something, to acquire skill, to become passionate, to improve, then tell them the technicalities of what they did wrong and how to do it.
[00:14:59] Right. And I think there’s beautiful wisdom there that, as I said with Ty, I think I was not really comfortable. To do it that way. And I remember even myself, when I was training my Thai, oftentimes I was annoyed that trainers would not give me more corrections. I was like, what is this why I can feel I’m doing it wrong?
[00:15:21] Why didn’t you tell me everything I’m doing wrong. It took me a long time to understand that that doesn’t work. It’s funny because in the context of sales you’ve been, I think long before you started training, like martial arts, you’ve been like. No just don’t overwhelm people with seatback on everything they’re doing wrong.
[00:15:37] I pick the one thing that will have the biggest impact and focus on that. Right? Yeah. You know, it, it’s also to tell people, you know, relax, make mistakes, just learn and move well. And then you try to learn something new and you, you act as if any mistake would kill an innocent child somewhere in the world.
[00:15:54] So she has to be avoided at all costs. You’re like, okay, I want to learn this new thing without making any mistake. Help me. How do I do that? The way you do that is by not learning anything or anything new. Um, so yeah, just make them fall in love, make them have fun. That’s it. And for ourselves as well, maybe as a, on the flip side, if I want to learn something new or master something new, how can I make it fun?
[00:16:22] How can I fall in love with it? Is a much better question than how can I do it, right? Or for a while the last couple of years, it’s not as trending. The more it was, how can I shortcut hack this? What’s the most scientific, intelligent way to learn this the fastest, right? Just how can I have fun doing this?
[00:16:45] And then the learning and the getting better takes care of itself.

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