Children and Sports: Part 2

17 May

I was happy to see feedback from Children and Sports: Part 1.  I love hearing different opinions on the same subject and this is certainly a topic that can have many different opinions.  Because of the amount of feedback I have decided to do a mini series on Children and Sports.  Yesterday, I wrote about our personal experience with organized children sports.  It is easy to see I am not that impressed with what we have to offer in our area.  Today I want to highlight 3 life lessons young children can learn from athletics.

1. Handling Winning vs. Losing

Many people won’t agree with me but I feel as though by the time a child is 4 years of age, they should know the difference between winning and losing.  Confession: I do not allow my son to win every game we play; board game or basketball game, there are times he wins and there are times he loses.  That’s life!  Was that too harsh?  When he loses, he usually asks for a re-match and when he wins, he usually tells me I had a good game and maybe he’ll “let” me win next time.  My goal as a parent is to teach Jayden to win and lose gracefully.  Both winning and losing are aspects of life that we will all continue to experience as you grow older.  We teach our children the difference between good and bad, why shouldn’t we teach them the difference between winning and losing?

2. Following Procedures

Everyone follows some type of rules or procedures.  Teaching children to follow the rules is something every parent tries to enforce from the time a child is old enough to understand.  Listening to a coach explain the rules and participate in drills teaches a child to listen, comprehend/process what was just said and then follow through.  I think it is so important for coaches and parents to help children follow the procedures while playing an organized sport.  Let’s face it, there are some parents that allow their children to roam around freely, not participate at all, run around and play tag when their supposed to be in a team huddle; which is fine, that is their choice.  However, I feel that the message that is being sent to the children is that it is O.K. to not listen and not do what is asked which is something that as they grow they will realize is not acceptable.

3. Commitment

Saturday mornings at 9:oo AM  and Tuesday evenings at 5:30 PM.  Those are our time slots are for t-ball and soccer.  Our son loves to sleep, Saturday mornings at 9:00 AM can sometimes be a struggle and there is nothing like running around for a solid hour right when you are used to eating dinner.  But, both of them are teaching Jayden to be committed to something.  This is another area that I feel is important to teach at a young age and one way of doing so is through an organized activity such as a sport.

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6 Responses to “Children and Sports: Part 2”

  1. Maria May 18, 2011 at 9:00 AM #

    Interesting post, though my opinion is different than yours.

    Re: 1– I don’t allow TB to win board games, etc either, but I do think the purpose of athletics for young children is to learn skills, and competition makes the purpose of athletics at a young age to win.

    Re: 2– Most young children are not able to comprehend the complex rules of sports, which is why most young childrens’ athletics have modified rules. Also, the attention span of most young children is considerably shorter than a sports lesson and more easily distracted, and quite honestly, not all children really want to participate. They are there because their parents make them. Yes, I want TB to follow rules and learn the way games are played, but I also want him to be a thinker who does not blindly follow. I can’t have it both ways, and I would rather he think and question than be an obedient robot.

  2. Erin May 19, 2011 at 5:54 AM #

    Another good thought provoker 🙂
    1- We also agree that it is good to win and lose, but aren’t too worried about it happening in a young sports setting. I actually prefer to deal with it at home first. Our kids lose at games and it is a great teaching opportunity. I also realize that it is a developmental thing to learn that competition in and of itself is a fun thing when everyone is playing their best and that it takes a long time to learn that. Joe is still learning it!

    2- I agree with the rules. Obviously Maria and I know we differ on original sin, as I believe children are born sinful and with a tendency to want to “buck the system”. I don’t think you need to teach them to think for themselves, I believe that is their natural instinct. I do believe they need to be taught how to submit to authority and that it begins int he home and then should extend out to other areas of their social world so as they can be a blessing to others. I don’t think this means they don’t think for themselves, but that they learn to do so within the context of the boundaries that God has set up. We as adults have boundaries in God’s law (we could not know our own sin without the law) and those boundaries are for our good. So we try to emphasize rule following as being for their good, not to stifle them. Sorry, getting off on a tangent here.

    3- This I think is also a good and learned habit. It is tough for a child to commit to something though since developmentally they have no idea how to process time down through months. We have had times when Abby has not wanted to go to gymnastics. We speak of responsibility and commitment, but there are times when we also evaluate that maybe she is tired and needs a break (this happened more in Italy where she was going to gymnastics 3 times a week, here in the States once a week is usually not too much).

    Just a few thoughts, nothing very succinct b/c I am running up to hop in the shower!

  3. Kearstin Harrington June 1, 2011 at 9:37 PM #

    You ladies had my brain thinking every since I read your comments.

    As I mentioned before, I am gray about this topic so I think you both make very valid points. I think we could go back and forth for days on this topic since we all have athletic backgrounds!

    Out of the 3 topics I touched based on the one that really believe in is #2. I truly feel that no matter what one is participating in, he/she needs to follow the rules and do what is asked from an authority figure.

    I plan on concluded this series later in the week! Can’t wait to hear what you ladies have to say!

    • Maria June 7, 2011 at 1:09 PM #

      I implore you to be careful with number 2, as not all authority figures are asking children to do the right thing. In other words, I believe this sets up children to blindly follow in a negative direction– abuse, immoral activities, etc. Authority figures are sinners too, after all.

      Should they follow the rules of the game? Yes.
      Should they generally follow adult direction? Yes.
      All of the time? I definitely think the answer is no.

      • Kearstin Harrington June 8, 2011 at 8:38 AM #

        Thanks for jogging my brain, Maria!

        I think the key to my first statement would be to make it clear to Jayden who is the authority figure he needs to be listening to, i.e., the coach. I also think it is my duty as a parent to teach Jayden the difference between right and wrong. Therefore, if an “authority figure” ask him to do something that is not acceptable then he wouldn’t do it. For example, about a week ago my sister-in-law had told Jayden he could run to the car when we were in an open parking lot. Jayden quickly responded by saying he is not allowed to run in parking lots. Apparently he is listening some of the time 😉

  4. Maria June 8, 2011 at 9:23 AM #

    They listen when you least expect it. 😉

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