Dr. Kristin Schaefer-Schiumo| Manhasset NY

Parenting Lessons (from the Sports Fields)

must admit, I am not very good at sports. But, I do enjoy them very much...playing them, talking about them, and looking for the life lessons they teach us over and over again. In our household there has been much talk about -and playing-soccer, basketball, lacrosse and baseball. Unfortunately, many recent drug scandals have likely made many of us view professional athletes with more skepticism than admiration. But, tremendous value remains in organized sports themselves. There are many parenting lessons that we can take away from the sports fields this spring:

  • 1. Life is a team sport. Each of us has our own individual goals, dreams and needs. Naturally, they must be respected, valued, and honored. You may have the best day, or play the best game of your life. But, your partner, children, teammates, or co-workers may be struggling. Being a good team player means being aware of and supporting everyone around you. Those truly successful in life work to fulfill their goals and honor their needs, while respecting and valuing other...building a strong team. They understand that life is about people, not thing. What a wonderful message for our children...care for one another as ourselves.
  • 2. Get back up and keep trying. Playing sports can be frustrating...you strike out...you miss the goal.. But the lesson here is that win or lose, take or miss the winning shot, you keep playing. It is true that there's only one winner, but more is learned from mistakes and disappointment than from easy wins. One of the most accurate predictors of success is grit, or pure determination. We must teach our children that part of life is getting up, wiping ourselves off, and staying in the game.
  • 3. Know your next move-and your opponents. One of the hallmarks of a successful person is the ability to anticipate and respond to the needs of others. Whether in baseball, chess, poker-or life-you have to be able to read the signs. You need to know what your teammates need and what your opponents are about to do.
  • 4. Three strikes and you're out. We all come to life with lessons to learn. I believe that in order to do so we are given warnings. Three warnings, or strikes, is enough to detect a problem...to let us know that something needs to change in some way or another. Giving a strike, rather than an immediate punishment, gives children time to learn and recover. It gives you time to brainstorm with them...other ways of speaking, more effective ways of behaving. In this way, children become more confident, seeing themselves as effective parts of a positive solution.
  • 5. We can be friends with our rivals. It is the hope that we raise children who know their own strengths while appreciating the skills or talents of others. If someone is good, they're good. Sometimes children want to diminish people for that, to "hate" them. Instead, teach them to compliment others for their talents and to use them as motivation to develop and flourish themselves.
  • 6. No pouting please. Many parents can identify with having sensitive children. Some children are very focused on winning and become sad or angry when they lose. Others have difficulty moving past pain, such as a scraped knee or a tumble on the field. But as parents we know that at times you have to move past the emotions-you may feel the anger, sadness or pain-but you have to keep trying. Whether it's schoolwork, relationships, professional development, or sports, you have to keep trying and do your best. Sometimes, our children will have worked unbelievably hard and truly done their best...yet someone else receives the higher grade, the admission into a better college, the team championship. Our goal as parents is to have children who congratulate them sincerely anyway. No matter what sports your children play, watch closely and take some time to notice the lessons from the field!

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