]Watching your kids play sports is fun for you and good for them. It gives them exercise, fresh air, and keeps them away from the TV, video games, and computer.
There are also life-shaping lessons that your kids will learn as they compete in athletics. And you know, it’s just as much fun watching them grow in character as it is watching them play.
Every now and then when your child comes home from practice or a game, he will talk about his day and if you really listen–beyond his words and into his heart–you will hear how his life is being shaped. He’s learning huge lessons that he will carry with him the rest of his life; he just doesn’t know it yet.
“I did it!” He may say. But what he’s really saying is that when he’s worked hard and seen results, he’s learned the lesson that consistent hard work pays off. This is a lesson he will hopefully remember later in life when faced with challenges in his job or marriage.
“Our team played great!” He says happily after a win. But what he’s really saying is that he understands the value of being a team player. He could have come home and said, “I played great.” or “Did you see how many points I scored?” Instead, he recognized the importance of looking out for the interests of others, as well as himself.
At the same time that your young athlete learns about teamwork, he is also developing the character trait of unselfishness.
“Wow! Did you see that guy on the other team run?” he exclaims after an exhausting game. But what he’s really saying is that he respects his competition. And that’s a good start for learning to treat others with respect. Teammates, coaches, opponents, and refs should all be treated respectfully, even when we don’t agree with them. As they grow older, this translates to employers, employees, spouses, kids, neighbors–you get the idea.
“Man, I wanted to punch that guy!” he exclaims when an opponent angers him. But what he’s really saying is that he didn’t give in to his frustrations; he exercised self-control. Athletes who cannot control angry responses hurt their team and hinder their own performance. Later in life, parents and spouses and bosses and employees who cannot control angry responses hurt people, and themselves in the process.
“I can’t believe I dropped that pass,” he may bemoan after a tough loss. But what he’s really saying is that he’s willing to own up and admit his mistakes, instead of blaming the QB for a bad pass or the offensive linemen for not giving the QB time to throw. Kids who learn to take responsibility for their actions will grow into responsible adults who try to correct their mistakes, instead of letting themselves remain victims.
As you watch your kids hit home runs, score touchdowns, kick goals, dig out balls, pin opponents–the options are endless!–enjoy every single exciting moment. It really can be a blast. But remember this as your kids plays sports: nothing is more important than who they become in the process.