GUEST POST: Wendy Dessler, Outreach Manager of Sweet Services
Sports are very important in modern civilization. When a person becomes good at sports, they are almost worshipped. They are paid ridiculous amounts of money and people will go to great lengths to see these games in person. They dominate the televisions. When something happens in the life of a sports star, it seems to be big news nationally. While your sports pro may be in the early years of the making, do not assume it is not very important to him. Children learn some valuable lessons from sports. Teamwork, pushing yourself, self-control and watching out for others are all part of sports.
Children also need an education. As parents, when we see our children playing football or basketball, we think it is cute. But what happens when the love for their sport begins to spark? What happens when the most important thing in his young life, is to make the winning play. To you, it may still be cute kid stuff. To him, it is the world. The idea of failing is unthinkable. With this in mind, how do you help him balance one of the most important thing he needs to succeed in the world, with the most important things in his world?
Do not make it a punishment
Assume both of these activities are important and a priority. While there may be a time when you have to make that call. However, you will not have to if you handle this well.
Before your child takes on an additional responsibility, a family conversation must take place. If we look at these activities were equal. Before you agree that you can do that, answer this question. Can you ever hear yourself saying, “If you don’t make a touchdown today, there will be no school for you! You have to keep your scores up!” Of course not. So, they are not equal. Therefore, there must be limits and reasonable boundaries. But, here is the good news. Your child will be a partner in setting the rules, boundaries, and consequences.
Grab a poster and a package of markers.
Draw a calendar on the poster.Use a marker to draw a thin line representing school days. Using another color, draw team practice and games. Add a third color homework. Make a few days off limits with a black X. That is for family time. Have your child find time on the calendar to hang out with other people, and do other things.
Create a budget
Like an allowance, a child must learn to consider the cost of the things they want. Set a budget and show them when you apply things to the budget. This includes:
- Entry fees
- Clothes and footwear
- Travel expense
- Cost of extra gear
Teach them how to work with a budget, and how to make sure they can cover their extras.
Tips to make this work
- Make sure your child understands he is entering into a contract. He will also help set the consequences for breaking the rules.
- All members of the family need to be involved in this because sooner or later each sibling will be in this position.
- Don’t look at the big picture. Look for small blocks of time that can be utilized. If he does not have time to have a birthday, surprise him and the team with a great candy buffet right after practice. You can get everything you need with one sweet delivery.
Bringing the heat
Explain to your child that agreeing to be on a team means all team members count on each other. Once he is in a team, he has an obligation to follow-through.
He is a child, so it is acceptable to set the consequences on a point system. He gets so many points for not doing something he was expected to do.
When he reaches the end of the points he is allowed, the punishment that you all agreed to will be enforced. You cannot back down. We have responsibilities in life. However, do not criticize him, scold him, yell at him, or allow him to bring out emotions in you. This is the most powerful part of the lesson. If he messes up and doesn’t come to you ahead of time and ask for help.
The bottom line is this. This is a life lesson. This is a way to prepare your child to fight the right way for what he wants in life. This is not an easy parenting moment, it is necessary. Your child will grow into a responsible adult and he will not feel like you did anything to him. The ball is in his park, and he is in charge of where it goes from there.