Parenting: Why parents and coaches should team up

Monday, May 09, 2011

When kids play sports, they learn about a lot more than batting or fielding.

Jim Thompson, founder and CEO of the Positive Coaching Alliance, says the key is coaches and parents working together.

"We talk about the two goals of sports," Thompson explains. "The first goal, trying to win on the scoreboard, the second, more-important goal, using sports to teach life lessons."

Thompson says the first goal -- winning on the scoreboard -- belongs to coaches, like my husband, Terry, who coaches our son Micah's Little League team.

Parents, Thompson says, need to focus on the second goal -- teaching life lessons.

"So, your kid comes home after striking out with the bases loaded, and her team loses the game, that's a teachable moment," Thompson says. "And you can reinforce resilience, and bouncing back. So, we think parents should be inovlved, in a really positive way."

That's what Jennifer Frankel, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., tries to do with her son, Jonah.

When things don't go so well on the field, she tells him, "It's just a game, and that professional players have bad days and that's baseball. You just have to keep going back out there."

Our son Micah learned a lesson in resiliance when he was hit with a ball and split his lip open, but then went back in the game.

Sports also teaches teamwork.

Thompson says, "There are very few jobs in this world, that are just totally solo jobs. Typically, if you're going to be successful, you work in a team."

Little League Mom Colette Cahill, of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., says that's a lesson she hopes her son, Cole, learns. "We're hoping he's learning a lot about team spirit, about accomplishing things as a team together and uses them in school hopefully, as well as life," she says.

And here's another way that good sportsmanship can pay off. The Positive Coaching Alliance is asking for parents to submit photos, videos or descriptions of positive sportsmanship to be entered in a contest for the Top Ten Sportsmanship Moments of the year. The teams selected will each win $1,000.

To submit a moment to the contest, click here.

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