T-ball season has ended. But baseball is still in high demand at our house. It’s important to note that I’m not a true sports fan. But as my little boy grows into a big 6-year old, I seem to spend a lot of weekends talking about – and playing — soccer, hockey, basketball – and now, baseball.
Admittedly, I didn’t grow up viewing baseball players as heroes, or even watching the sport. And the doping scandals have made me look at these players with more skepticism than admiration. But after a recent conversation with a friend, I saw more value in this organized sport. Here are some parenting lessons I think we can all get from many sports, but specifically, this baseball season:
- Life is a team sport: You can have the best day or game of your life, while your friends, spouse, co-workers or teammates don’t. But being a good team player means being aware of everyone around you. Supporting them and encouraging them. While it’s often important to put your own needs and personal goals first, you still need to root each other on. Together, we make each other strong.
- Get back up and keep trying: The most frustrating thing about baseball (for me) is that it’s always on. When are they NOT playing? But the lesson here is that win or lose, strike out or home run, they keep playing. Yes, there’s only one winner, but if you’re not learning from each attempt at bat, you’re not really playing the game.
- You’re out in three strikes: I believe in warnings. I also believe that if there’s a problem, I’ll see a pattern. And three instances is enough to detect a problem. Giving a strike, rather than an immediate punishment, gives my kids enough time to learn and recover. It doesn’t have to end in tears and hugs, like Time Outs do. It’s a warning. And often that’s just what they need.
- Strategize your next move – and your opponents: One of the best things about my nanny is that she’s always anticipating our needs. (She’s better than some spouses I know!)Her father was a baseball coach. Coincidence? Maybe not. Perhaps we can all learn that in baseball – as well as in life — you have to read the signs of what your teammates need (as well as what your opponents are about to do).
- There’s no crying – or pouting: Having a very sensitive son who only focuses on winning games (and needs a bandage for every bump and bruise), I still see value in Tom Hanks’ classic line “There’s no crying in baseball” from A League of Their Own. Shake off the sadness, anger – and even some pain. Whether its schoolwork, relationships or sports, you’ve got to keep trying – and playing through the agony. And if you’re not the winner, you didn’t “get the girl” or achieve the highest grade, you should still congratulate the person or team who did.
- We can be friends with our rivals: We can always appreciate other people’s skills, even if we envy them. As a Blue Jays fan, I can still value the dignity, poise and skill of Derek Jeter. If someone is good, they’re good. Don’t hate them for it. Instead, compliment them – and be grateful that there is someone out there keeping you on your toes – raising the expectations you set for yourself.
- We should appreciate each other’s favorites – even if we don’t agree: There’s nothing worse than a bad sports fan — someone who feels the “H-word” (as we call “hate” in our house) toward other teams, and puts down their fans. We need to value our friends’ likes and dislikes, interests and non-interests. Not judge them or berate them for it.
Your Next Steps
- Your Child Wants to Quit, Should You Let Them?
- 7 Fun Family Activities for this Summer
- Summer Fun: 101 Things to Do with Kids