As our son grows up, my wife and I have the ultimate responsibility to teach him the life skills that he needs to succeed. We can tell him how to improve in school and at work when that begins later. However, we must also give him chances to experience the life lessons that we teach him. Youth sports give him these chances. Our son has learned many life lessons on the baseball field that he can apply to his teen years and beyond.
Team sports teach kids to work together. Less-talented players who work well together can beat teams full of individual all-stars. My son likes to keep to himself, but on the baseball field he must work with his teammates. He must know where to throw the ball on each play and expect the correct teammate is in his place. He must also back up throws to the bases to keep runners from advancing. Failure to do his part can hurt the whole team.
In school, he occasionally has group projects. The students have individual responsibilities, but they must all work together to complete the assignments. One student’s failure affects the entire group grade. Learning teamwork on the field will give him the needed experience to learn to work with others on the projects.
Practice to improve
Players cannot improve their skills without constant practice. My son will not make his junior high team if he does not work to improve. He plays great outfield, but he has some trouble hitting at times. He also has begun learning to pitch. Whether hitting or pitching, if he does not work on technique, then he will not have the coordination or muscle memory to improve the skills.
When managing finances, he will make mistakes, especially at first. He must learn from those mistakes to avoid disaster. We will teach him the skills, but he must practice them on his own. I made him a kid-friendly checkbook register so he can learn to keep track of income and spending. I have him update it every time he receives or spends money.
Setting long-term goals
The coach and the players set a goal to win the league championship. In addition, U-13 coaches work to prepare the kids to play at the next level, junior high school. We coach to win, but we also teach the kids to play many positions so they will have better chances to make their school teams.
We have already begun teaching our son to set goals. He recently wanted his own computer. We laid out a plan, and he earned it with within a few months. He saved half of the money and worked for the rest. He set this goal and exercised patience to earn the computer. He learned some of that skill on the baseball field.
Winning helps kids learn to appreciate success. Through the five years of baseball, we have won three league championships, two of them on undefeated teams. The hard practice paid off, and the winning made him learn to understand why he must work so hard.
Our son appreciates what he earns. He recently had trouble on a civics test. We had him study his next set of lessons much more before the next test. He did not like studying extra, but when he saw that 100%, he agreed that the extra studying helped make it happen.
When we lose, we identify why and practice those aspects more. For example, if we lose because of bad throws, we work on throwing more at practice. The kids do not like losing, so they will work harder at the next practice so they can win the next game.
Low grades upset our son as much as they upset us. When he scores low, he knows that he still has chances to raise the overall average. He studies more, pays closer attention in class, and checks his work more carefully. He then improves the grade as much as possible.
We teach our son the best we possibly can. We also know to let him experience the lessons in a place in which he can have fun while he learns them. Our son has learned some valuable life lessons on the baseball field.
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Parenting Strategies: Splitting the School Expenses
Parenting Strategies for Making Sure Our Son Gets High Grades