Football can do more for kids than just provide enjoyment. The Kids Coach Naomi Richards continues her look at the lessons that children can learn from playing the beautiful game.
I wrote in June about life lessons that children can learn when playing football. I covered five important lessons but wanted to write about a few more, so let’s continue where we left off.
The wider lessons that I feel both boys and girls can take from football are learning how to engage with other people, how to work as a team and, to some extent, learning about a work ethic.
I don’t think, as parents, we think too much about these aspects of football, or any other sport, but these are all important factors when moving on into the adult world.
Engaging with people
There are going to be times in life when your child has to make new friends. Football makes it easier because they already have something in common.
I feel it is important that they understand what their team mates are like away from the game, as well as when they are playing. What kind of people are they playing alongside? Are they kind people? Considerate? Do they know what makes them angry? Who are they?
Finding this out will help your child see that their team mates are not one dimensional and that there is another side to the person they see on the pitch (that person may be aggressive during a game but mild-mannered off the pitch, for example). Your child may be playing with the same team for a time and I think it is always useful that they get to know the others’ personalities.
Football is a great way to make friends and they can do this when getting ready to play, before and after training sessions, if time allows.
Your child may also encounter children that they do not get on with and, in life, that is the way it is. We don’t get on with everyone. So how do they work around those clashes of personality? How can we help them? Do we encourage them to stay away from those children or do we get them to spend some time with them to hopefully understand why they are that way?
Do we teach them how to get along with them in a way they can accept? What do we do as adults when we clash? Something for you to think about…
Working as a team
Teamwork cannot be avoided in life. At school, group work is sometimes initiated, as it is later on in the workplace too. We can encourage teamwork by helping our child see that their ego needs to be separated from working together and that by everyone contributing, the results of a game can be better than if they dominate the ball or exclude others.
Everyone likes a ‘joiner-in’, an ‘includer’ and other children are reciprocal to those who share.
Playing football requires discipline and commitment. So does work, regardless of whether you like your job. If your child says they want to be part of a team, they have to follow the rules set by the manager/coach, turn up for games and have a good and willing attitude.
A life lesson like this one will help your child get far. Show them how to have the right mindset and lead by example.
Don’t forget that football is not just football – there is so much more your child can learn about themselves and about life.
Her first book, The Parent’s Toolkit, shares key life tools for you to help your children successfully navigate their own childhood problems and grow up into happy, confident and resilient young adults.
The Parent’s Toolkit was described by The Sun as “clear and to the point… a must-read for parents”. It is published by Vermillion and is available to buy at Amazon.co.uk.
Put your questions to The Kids Coach
If you are a parent or youth coach and you would like Naomi’s advice on any issue that might affect a young footballer, then put your question to her. You can leave a comment below, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @thekidscoach.
All enquiries will be treated confidentially and they may just be featured, anonymously, in next month’s column. We look forward to hearing from you!
Other articles by The Kids Coach:
* Life lessons from football (part I)
* What’s in a word?
* How to reduce football stress
* Keeping the balance
* What if my child wants to quit?
* Does your child respect their peers?
* Keeping the belief going
* Football crazy, football mad
* It’s the taking part that counts
* Giving young players confidence to try new things
* Parents: To shout or not to shout?
* Young footballers must see respect to show respect