My husband went out with his friends the other night, one of whom is a junior football coach.
This particular man is one of eleven children, his parents were exceptional, he is exceptional, which is why is the godfather to my daughter. He never forgets her birthday, small gifts, cards and phone calls are the norm. He is one of life’s everyday heroes.
My husband expressed his frustration with our son when he plays football. While he adores cricket, he doesn’t seem to have the same joie de vivre on football field each Sunday.
And then his friend told my husband some home truths about coaching. He has several hearing impaired kids in his teams and Aspergers’ children and on paper they shouldn’t be contenders, yet they have won seven of their nine games this season. The kids love it, the coach loves it, everyone is happy.
The pressure on kids to be exceptional nowadays is enormous. Why can’t we be just okay but still have fun? It feels like everyone wants their kids to be the next Tiger Woods or Maria Sharapova of their chosen sport. Kids being hothoused and pushed beyond their actual skills.
Then my husband and his friend talked about why kids give up sport even if they show they have potential and might even be great one day. We have heard of a few stories lately of boys with anorexia from their father’s telling them to be better at their sports. Boys with bulimia who worry they can’t be enough for their parents. These aren’t just ‘chick’ issues anymore.
Our friend told us of a study recently done to find out why children give up sport, much to their parents confusion and frustration?
The drive home.
The time in the car, where the parent tells them everything they did wrong and how they could do better next week.
It is the drive home the kids want to avoid, not the sport, so they give up what they love to avoid this moment.
What an eye opener it was to us both. I told my son to go and play sport today for fun. That I didn’t care if he touched the ball for the rest of the season, but to just have some fun. This is why he is playing it after all. It’s a social game, and what they learn on the field about sportsmanship and enjoyment is more important that winning.
If they enjoy themselves, then they have already won.
Thank you to Paul for such a lesson. I cannot help but think of some of the sporting parents who abuse their kids and umpires from the side of the field and whose children dread the drive home with their well intentioned but wrong parents.
Make the game fun, make the drive home fun, make the future fun.
Here is a great article about this topic. Please read it. please get your SO to read it. Please hand it around the team to the other parents. And please do as it says.