August 7, 2010
Don't Spend all Summer Coaching Your Kids by Jon Buzby
During the summer months, we parents probably play outside with our children more than at any other time of the year. Unlike during the school year, days are longer, temperatures are warmer and evening commitments are few and far between.
Like a lot of youth sports parents, I find myself trying to coach my child while we're playing in the backyard.
My son wants to play goalie when we play roller hockey. I want him to practice his stick-handling skills. He wants to play soccer (a sport he does not play formally). I want to play basketball since he actually belongs to a league. He wants to play Wiffle ball. I want him to let me pitch baseballs to him.
I try to work on technique. He just wants to have fun. I get stressed out when he doesn't want to listen. He gets upset when I won't stop coaching.
Children need to play and it needs to be fun. If it's not fun, they will lose interest. Playing is important at any age — How many of us would play the recreational sports we do (golf, tennis, etc.) if every time we swung the club or racket someone was correcting our technique?
Summer is the perfect time to start letting your child dictate how to spend time playing (as long as it's safe).
I asked my son why he plays soccer at recess since it's a sport he does not play in a formal league, and his response was, "Because it's fun." During recess, there are no coaches, no parents, no officials and no pressure. Kids can make up the teams and the rules to make sure they have fun.
The same should happen at home, and not just during the summer.
If you're wondering why all of the sudden your child does not want to play basketball with you, think back to the last few times you were outside playing together. Did you spend more time coaching than just being a parent? Did you dictate what the two of you would play and how it should be played? If so, you may have taken the fun out of your child's play.
The next time you go outside to play with your child, try to make an honest effort to let your child decide what you'll play and what the rules will be. Don't correct, explain or demonstrate unless you're asked. You might be surprised how much fun you'll have together.
Check back next week for another great article.