Applying Buddhism in coaching kids in their studies

By Angela Khew

Teaching our own kids is never easy – we tend to have certain expectations of them, and we may unknowingly exert excessive pressure on them to meet our expectations. When there is excessive pressure, tension arises and both parties i.e. parents and kids will experience frustration and unhappiness.

Being a Buddhist and learning Buddhism are the greatest gifts of my life. Through learning Buddhism and cultivation, I am taught to have more self-awareness. With this self-awareness, I am more aware of my arising thoughts. When I am more aware of my arising thoughts, I am able to observe my mind more clearly and discontinue any thoughts that are unwholesome e.g. angry thoughts. This is important when coaching my kids because I can observe arising angry thoughts, cease them, and not allow them to intensify and affect my emotions and behaviours. With better control of my mind, I am calmer and able to understand situations and things with better clarity. Hence, I am able to come up with better ways to help my kids understand concepts and topics they were previously less familiar with.

When interacting with our family members or people that are close to us, we tend to have heightened expectations, and when these expectations are not met, we will be disappointed. Such expectations and disappointment will cause us to be trapped in our own emotions, which will cause us to lose our awareness. In Buddhism, we are taught “离情尚义”, which means we need to emotionally distant ourselves from the situation or person, in order to have better judgment and wisdom to handle the issue. Applying this learning to coaching my kids, if I am not emotionally attached to the situation (expectations I had) or my kids, I will be more rational and objective in dealing with issues pertaining to my kids’ studies. With greater awareness, and a calmer and more rational mind, it becomes easier for me to inject humour into my coaching. This is important because kids get bored easily. To motivate them and create stronger impressions of what they have studied, cracking jokes and lightening up the situation are useful methods to sustain my kids’ interests in doing their homework and revision.

In summary, what we have learnt in Buddhism can be applied in our day-to-day lives, including the coaching of kids. It is important that we have self-awareness to observe our arising thoughts, discontinue the unwholesome ones, and have a calmer mind. With greater self-awareness, we are able to emotionally distant ourselves from whatever situations or issues that we face. This will allow us to see things more clearly and be more rational. Hence, when it comes to coaching kids, we will be able to inject humour at the appropriate time to motivate our kids to study and learn better. The benefits of cultivating self-awareness are tremendous.