Batter Up! Making Your Child’s First Game a Hit

Kids can benefit from team sports in many ways and at every age. Whether it is soccer, tee-ball, flag football, or any other physical activity, playing sports can boost your child’s confidence, help develop strong social skills, teach respect, and create a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime.

Once your child has chosen a sport, signed up for a team, and had a little bit of practice, it will be time for the very first game. The approach that you take as parents in the stands can influence your young one’s view of what is important as a player and as a person, so taking steps to make the experience a positive and happy one can go a long way. Not to mention, the first game is kind of a big deal. Ensuring that your entire family has a wonderful time is simple when you concentrate on the things that really matter.

Ask for Input

This is a big day for your child, so make sure to let them have a say in how it goes. Find out where they would like you to sit, how they would like you to cheer them on, and even what sort of interaction they would like to have with you off the field during the game. Depending on their age and personality, they might love it if you wave a banner and run to give them a hug or a high five, or they might prefer that you keep things a little low key and not make a big deal. If they opt for the latter, remember that there will be time for recognition and affection later.

Focus on Fun

Scoring points in awesome! Winning the game is fantastic! But above all else, you want your child to have a good time playing a game. Competition should be the last thing on anyone’s mind, especially on an elementary school or pre-k level. Unless your kiddo asks for pointers or help with improving a skill such as pitching, batting, or kicking, avoid bringing it up at home. Talk about how gratifying participating in a real game will be, and mention how much you’ll enjoy watching them run, swing, or throw. Keep your expectations low and maintain a kicked-back, upbeat attitude throughout the game.

Lean on Humor

If things don’t go as planned at any point during the game (and there is always a good chance that they won’t!), avoid displaying frustration, anger, or impatience, and opt for wittiness instead. For instance, if the other team's bus breaks down and the game is delayed, offer up some corny jokes or show off your mad juggling skills. Whether you have to deal with unexpectedly cold, hot, or wet weather, a lack of comfortable seating, or a split in your child’s uniform pants, approaching the issue with an optimistic attitude and finding humor in the matter can improve the situation for everyone involved.

Emphasize Life Lessons

Along with having fun, you want your child to walk away from his first game (and team sports in general) with greater insight into significant characteristics. When you require your child to show up for practice, try their best, and follow through for the entire game or season, they will learn about commitment, perseverance, and discipline. If they don’t score or the team loses the game, you can help teach them how to deal with failure and maintain a positive outlook. They can begin to grasp the importance and benefits of working with others as part of a team. They’ll also start to discover how to set and work toward a goal and how to communicate more effectively.

Highlight Skills, Improvements, and Efforts

Whether your child’s team wins by a landslide or lost horribly, emphasizing other aspects of the game and their efforts will help them understand what you consider important. For example, you might praise them for their courage playing in front of a crowd, for running as fast as they could, for paying attention to their coach and teammate, or for understanding the rules so well. Ask your child if they had a good time. Talk about their favorite thing that happened, who their best friends are on the team, and what they admire about them.

Display Good Sportsmanship

Nobody likes a sore loser, but an arrogant winner isn’t very pleasant, either. Maintain the positive, celebratory attitude through the end of the game by thanking the coach for his hard work, congratulating the winners, and shaking hands or exchanging pleasantries, such as a simple, “Good game!” with members of the other team and their parents. Remember that your child learns a great deal by simply watching you.

Does your little one play a sport? How are you planning to celebrate their first game? Share your fun ideas with us!

Tags : everyday celebrations   life lessons   sports   bonding   competition   achievements   milestones   

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