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Life Lessons Kids Can Learn From Sports

Life Lessons Kids Can Learn From SportsFor children to become responsible adults, how you act after the game determines whether your kids truly win or lose. "Letting kids participate in sports gives them the opportunity to learn many valuable lessons," says Rick Wolff, co founder and chairman of the Center for Sports Parenting. "However, it's up to parents to help their children apply what they learn from sports to other areas of their lives."

Never Underestimate the Strength of Teamwork. Sports provide an opportunity for kids to learn to take turns, set goals as a team, and cooperate with other children to achieve those goals.It's this kind of emotional and social development that can easily carry over to how well your children work with their teachers, classmates, relatives, and anyone else they may encounter in life.

Bringing it home: Look for ways to encourage teamwork within everyday family life. Rather than focus on your children's individual tasks (cleaning their room), focus on the main goal (a clean house), then explain the part that each family member will play toward reaching that goal.

Everyone has something to offer. In team sports, it's rare that a star can perform every task well. For example, one child may bat well, another catch, another run the bases fast. Some kids may be more developed cognitively and understand the sport's strategy, while others may be more adept socially and instinctively know how to motivate other kids to play their best.

Bringing it home: "The next time your child makes a remark about someone's differences or weaknesses, immediately point out that person's strengths," says Bergen. If your child feels frustrated by her own shortcomings, remind her of the skills that come more naturally to her.

Everyone has something to offer. In team sports, it's rare that a star can perform every task well. For example, one child may bat well, another catch, another run the bases fast. Some kids may be more developed cognitively and understand the sport's strategy, while others may be more adept socially and instinctively know how to motivate other kids to play their best.

Bringing it home: The next time your child makes a remark about someone's differences or weaknesses, immediately point out that person's strengths. If your child feels frustrated by her own shortcomings, remind her of the skills that come more naturally to her.

Feedback doesn't mean failure. Good coaches know how to offer constructive feedback in an uplifting way. This can make kids more respectful and receptive when taking advice from others, even their parents.

Bringing it home: Skip the post-game analysis. Immediately going over all their mistakes only tunes kids out and can lead to resentment. Regardless of how well she performed, always praise your child for her effort and for the things she did right. Offering compliments that are too general, such as 'you did great today,' isn't practical because it doesn't point to anything specific that kids can understand. Once kids start talking about the errors they made, always keep the conversation positive. Acknowledge their failure by saying ?It's OK to be upset. You did your best and I'm proud of you.

Guide, but abide. You think you know exactly what activity your child would excel at -- and you might be right -- but don't let him feel railroaded. Even if your child's size, shape, or skills make him ideal for a specific sport or activity, explore a variety with him so he can see his options. Ultimately, let him make the final decision and do your best to support his choice.

Bringing it home: Children learn best from sports that fit their personalities and talents -- and from having your support all through the process. Knowing that you accept them -- regardless of how well they perform -- will give your kids all the confidence they need to succeed far beyond the playing field.



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