As parents, we think the world of our kids. So, when they possess a particular talent, “naturally” we think they’re ready for the Olympics, a run on Broadway, or a college scholarship — My kid the superstar.
At games, you’ll find some proud parents cheering their children for giving it their best shot, while others “browbeat” their kids — sometimes pushing them to their physical and emotional limits — and frequently, just harassing or embarrassing them in front of their friends. It’s no wonder that many kids lose interest in an activity because it’s no longer rewarding and fun. It makes you wonder whether winning means more to the parents or to their children.
Whatever happened to simply enjoying an activity? When did we turn Pee Wee sports into killer competition? Since when did we place more emphasis on “winning” than on building confidence and self-respect? Sure … some kids will translate their talent into stardom and a professional career. As for the others … these activities can provide a wonderful learning experience about life — if we would just treat them that way — while “letting our kids be kids.”
What Should Activities Teach Our Kids About Life?
1. Attitude is everything. Be positive. Set high expectations. Picture yourself a winner. Replace negative thinking with a can-do attitude.
2. Get in the game. Anyone can watch a game, but real winners get off the sidelines and play. Don’t let fear of failure stop you from reaching your full potential. Remember, it’s better to go down swinging than to be called out on strikes.
3. Winning is as much mental as physical. Surround yourself with positive people. Control your emotions. Stay focused and remain disciplined.
4. Master the fundamentals. Practice, practice, practice. When you master the basics, and execute them well, there’s no need to worry about the score. It works like magic.
5. Few things come easy in life. Success is achieved through hard work and determination. If you want something, you have to put your heart into it. It takes many years to become an overnight success.
6. Always do your best. Aim high and never settle for second best. Strive for continuous improvement in everything that you do. As Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning is not everything — but making the effort to win is.” If you try your best, you’ll never have regrets.
7. Be ready on game day. Anyone can talk a good game. What matters is what you do when it counts. There’s no dress rehearsal for life.
8. Remain flexible and embrace change. You can’t control the uncontrollable. So be prepared to expect the unexpected. People get injured. The weather doesn’t always cooperate. The ball won’t always come your way. Go with the flow.
9. View obstacles as opportunities. When barriers get in your way, find a way around them and use them to learn and develop. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Excuses don’t win games.
10. Know your strengths and the strengths of others. You’re only one person, so don’t try to win games by yourself. Trust and support your teammates and they’ll place their faith in you. That’s the making of a winning team.
11. Be a team player. Winning takes teamwork. So be prepared to make personal sacrifices for the good of the team.
12. Keep your perspective. Remain calm under pressure. Competition will test your limits. Be calm, strong, and in control when it matters most. When counting to ten doesn’t seem to work, try twenty.
13. Be a leader. Become a good role model. Set high standards of excellence for yourself and others. Make people feel special and help bring out the best in everyone. Now that’s a superstar.
14. If you can’t play fair, don’t play. Integrity matters. Compete fairly and fully. When you resort to cheating, you’ve already lost.
15. Quitting is not an option. There will be times when things get tough –– and it may even feel as though all is lost. Always keep hope alive and display confidence in the eye of defeat. As Morgan Freeman said, “The best way to guarantee a loss is to quit.”
16. Accept responsibility for your actions. You’re in the driver’s seat. Only you can decide how hard you’re willing to work to achieve your goals. If you succeed, the rewards are yours. If you fail, there’s always another day.
17. Learn to forgive. Be loyal when the chips are down. Appreciate the special qualities of others, including your opponents. Forgive the mistakes of others. It may be your error that costs the team tomorrow.
18. Support others in need. Real friends are available in good times and bad. So offer your teammates encouragement and support, especially when they have a bad day.
19. Look to the future rather than the past. Don’t dwell on mistakes or past defeats. What’s done is done. Learn from the experience and move on.
20. Follow directions. Listen to your coach and respect the call of a referee even if you disagree.
21. Compete against yourself. Competing against others may be destructive if more effort is spent tearing others down than building yourself up. When you compete against yourself, however, you both win.
22. Raise your game. Find a good role model. Don’t be shy to ask for help. Be open to feedback and put it to good use.
23. Say “no” to unhealthy behavior. Take care of your body. It’s the only one you’ve got. Abuse your body and pay the price.
24. Know that losing doesn’t make you a failure. Be a good loser. Bounce back after a big loss. That’s the sign of a superstar.
25. Be a good winner. Be a winner on and off the field. Be humble and quietly proud but never self-satisfied. And never let success go to your head.
Preparing Kids for the Game of Life
Teach your child that success doesn’t come easily. Life is a continuing competition in which excellence wins. Therefore, it’s better to learn how to compete when the consequences are small. So if you aren’t using every opportunity to prepare your child for the game of life, your son or daughter is being cheated out of something very special.
Take your cue from the great coaches in all sports and at all levels — great coaches build trust, instill discipline, and foster teamwork. They showcase the child who displays a can-do attitude, shows improvement, or demonstrates leadership on and off the field. Great coaches inspire confidence by applauding the team because they did their best — even if they lost the game.
The bottom line is that kids aren’t born with self-confidence or a positive attitude; kids don’t automatically know how to conquer fear, accept feedback, overcome obstacles, or snatch victory from the jaws of defeat; kids don’t always know what it’s like to come back after failure, be a humble winner, or show grace after a terrible loss. These skills are learned.
As Mike Krzyzewski, the legendary Duke basketball coach, said, “My ambition in high school was to be a high school coach and teacher, and that’s still what I do: teach.” So do your child a favor and teach him or her the winning philosophy of great coaches — because even though it’s great to win the game, it’s even better to be a superstar in life.