Parents, ask yourself this question: Why do I support my child playing sports? When I ask parents this question, most of the time I get answers like, "Sports helps to develop life skills," including, leadership, teamwork, sacrifice, work ethic, communication, and so on.
My challenge to you as parents is to define what exactly you want your child to get out of sports and define how you are going to foster and support those goals. When I teach this at workshops, I ask parents to identify four (you can have more) specific life skills they would like to see their athlete develop.
Here is an example of what one mother came up with:
- Responsibility for personal property. Have my son wash, dry and take care of his practice gear and uniform. If he loses or damages his gear, he has to replace it himself.
- Communication with adults. When my son has a problem I will encourage him to talk to the coach. I can also do some role-playing at home to help him know what to say and how to make eye contact.
- Social skills among his peers. I will host team dinners at my house and have my son take part in inviting and planning the dinner.
- Sacrifice for what he wants. I will have my son pay for half of all of the sports camps he goes to over the summer. I will help him find jobs at home and with friends and neighbors so he can earn money.
Having a parenting philosophy about sports can help you when times get tough. It’s hard to keep perspective if you don’t have a reason why you are supporting your child in sports. As a parent, you have no control over what happens on the court or the decisions the coach makes. However, you have control in your own home and you can work with your athlete to develop critical life skills in the comfort of your own living room.
If anyone would like an electronic copy of the full worksheet on how to develop a parenting philosophy, please email me by clicking the "email the author" link at the top of the story.
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