Monday, November 10, 2014

How to Keep your Family Team Cheering: Older siblings and sports

A few weeks back,  I wrote about the importance of the groups your kids are involved in. It is a really brainy post, but the theory behind it was brought home for me today as I spoke with one of the other "team moms".  One of the great things about surrounding my kids with other great kids, is that fairly often those other great kids have amazing parents.  JR's soccer team is a great example.  The kids on the team are super nice, and their parents are well grounded.  I was reminded about that today during JR's soccer match.

One of the mom's commented that her daughter was really pushing back about attending the little brother's soccer games.  Their daughter is old enough to stay at home and soccer season is in full swing.  Some weekends the boys don't play, other Saturday's they have one game, and on tournament weekends they can have as many as 4 games.  Siblings can quickly lose their "supportive attitude" as they are schlepped from game to game, yet many parents want to reinforce the importance of supporting one another.

This brilliant mom came up with a great solution
for some of those times when a sibling doesn't want to go.  I am paraphrasing (because I did not take notes on the sidelines), but it went something like this.

 "If you are going to stay home rather than support your little brother, then here is a list of things you can do to help out the family while we are gone.  Laundry needs to be sorted, dishwasher needs to be unloaded…"

Now, clearly this approach won't work with young kids.  If you have siblings on the sidelines there is another set of tips here.  But the point that this mom is making is clear:  We are a family and we are a team.  If you are unwilling to lend support to our team in this way, then you can do so in another way.

The brilliance in this comes down to five simple things:

1 - Teens need their space.  They need independence.  Sometimes they just want to be left alone.   Giving them space when they ask for it, shows them respect, gives them a chance to show you they are responsible, and helps them develop high self-efficacy.

2 - It serves a great purpose and is logical.  When the family returns from the game, they now can do something as a family, rather than splitting up to do chores.  They are also more likely to want to spend time with you when you return, rather than pulling away for their  'alone time' when you all get home.  Not to mention the reality that sulking siblings are really a downer on the sidelines.

3 - It give the teen a choice whilst also conveying the family's values.  Come with us or don't - but you aren't just going to sit around. We are a team and we support one another and the teen is able to choose how she will support the family.  This actually helps build the teens intrinsic motivation.

4 - It directs the teen's down-time just a little.  Kids are busy today and it is rare for many of them to just relax and do nothing.  But that is precisely when kids get in trouble.  Giving them tasks to accomplish while you are away makes them accountable for their time.  It also gives them a chance to think while they are working, about what they really WANT to be doing.  Thus, when they finish up the tasks, they are less likely to just veg, and more likely to do something that they enjoy.

5 - Grounds the athlete in reality.  It helps send the message to the athlete, that the world doesn't revolve around him even if mom and dad's schedule does for the season. Kids and teens have a hard time keeping perspective.

Only a parent can know when is the right age to let a tween or teen start staying home, but if you are already at that point in your parenting life - congratulations!  And many thanks to yet another brilliant mom-friend for the conversation that prompted this post.  You help me be a better parent and a better blogger both.

Thanks for stopping by!

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