I often think about how girls (or boys) that don't play sports miss out on the many lessons that playing sports offers. Sports can be a great opportunity for children to learn many wonderful life lessons.
Unfortunately, sports can present many challenges...or should I say learning opportunities (depending on how you look at it!). There are a million books and articles written about sportsmanship for a good reason....sports are a great opportunity to learn many values such as teamwork, leadership, determination, trust and respect. But often, it takes a good coach or mentor (such as a parent) to teach children the real value of sports in a child's life. Here are a few simple ways you can help your child reap the benefit of sportsmanship.
1. Let your children fail. Your child wants to play football but can't catch a football? Don't worry! Let them try out and find out for themselves if they can do it. Although we want to help our child by guiding them in the best direction for them, they often need to figure it out for themselves. Who knows? If they want it bad enough, they just might find a way to get better.
2. Stay positive. I used to know a family that loved sports. I should say, the father loved sports but the kid did not. I would watch the father playing sports with the child in the back yard and it was always difficult to watch. The father wanted his son to enjoy the sport as much as he did and he wanted his son to be good at it. The father had the best intentions but had no idea he was turning it into a negative experience by continuously correcting his son to do it the "right way". I always wondered if his son would actually like sports if his dad lightened up a bit. Here are some things you can say to turn the experience into a positive one.
"Wow! You are fast!"
"I like how you hold the bat!"
"Wow Sally! How did you do that? Could you teach me to kick the ball like you do?"
"Thanks for playing catch with me, I really enjoyed it!"
3. Stay supportive. I know how hard it can be to get your child to practice anything. Try to avoid arguing about practicing or it could turn the whole subject into a negative one. Instead, sit down with your child and decide on a reasonable schedule and stick to it. Remember, they may need you to do it with them sometimes. Even if you aren't skilled at that sport, having them "teach you" is a great way for them to learn, practice and most importantly feel confident. If they do not like the sport as much as they anticipated, this is a great opportunity for them to learn how the value of commitment, that is fulfilling your promises to be part of a team.
Get involved with your child's interests and ask many questions (whether you are truly interested or not) The point is to show your child you're interested in them. Joining sports teams are not easy commitments and are usually not cheap. Make the most of it and you will make the most of your time and money while teaching your child invaluable lessons that will last a lifetime.