Teaching your child independence is not just about dropping them off at the mall with their friends and say have a good time. There has to be a responsibility factor instilled first. Responsibility leads to trust, and trust grants autonomy. Sports will allow your child to experience many life lessons that teach them the value to rely on themselves. You are in a perfect position because sports are the best way to teach your child responsibility and independence. So, let’s look at some other ways off the field to make your child independent.
Make your child responsible for packing their gear, whether spikes, shin-guards, sticks, or pads. You can casually look over their shoulder to make sure it is being done correctly. However, packing their own gear will help them understand and learn responsibility. Equipment is mandatory, so if they don’t have it, they won’t play. If you make your child responsible for their equipment, it is a small detail that has a greater positive impact in life. Responsibility teaches preparation and being prepared exemplifies care.
Another way to teach them responsibility is during a game. If your child makes an error or lousy play on the field, have them own it. Have your child take responsibility for their actions so they know how to accept, adjust, and change rather than blame. Being responsible will make your child feel confident.
Increase Their Confidence
Make your child feel confident with their decisions on and off the field. Give them high fives, pats on the back and hugs, for good plays and good grades. Let them feel the difference when they play well, show respect and good sportsmanship, are honest, and work hard. Your affection will help your child develop these qualities more and understand the rules to grant them independence. Your child ultimately, and sometimes you don’t see it through bad behavior, want your affection and praise. So, show them what you like and don’t like to help them be confident in what to do.
Confidence develops responsibility, and both of these qualities will make them feel secure.
Make Them Feel Safe
To be independent, you need a sense of security. Feeling safe makes experiencing and learning easier and better, and your child will not be scared to say yes or no. When your child does not feel safe, being insecure leads to poor decision-making and maybe agreeing to something that puts them in harm’s way. You have to combat this by dealing with social pressure, the feeling to be perfect created by social media. Create a safe environment for them to make mistakes in a controlled situation, which is what sports teach your child; to deal with the agony of defeat and turn it into success.
Make your child feel safe by listening to them. Knowing that you will listen to them, unconsciously tells your child they can speak to you about anything.
Let Them Experience
During games, your child is learning to make decisions with sports experience. They have to know what to do and when to do it correctly. This is key to have independence. It is these decisions that not only pertain to the game but in life. These sports experiences structure their mindset and behavior. Your child experiences and learns best by playing in general; however, sports bring about a greater sense of responsibility and decision-making. Qualities like teamwork, sportsmanship, and respect arise to form your child’s emotional ability. And it is through experience, they can learn to be accountable.
Accountability is important. Teach your child to be accountable for their actions rather than blame. This will help discourage bad behavior. Your child needs to be held responsible for their actions, especially their mistakes. They need to know mistakes will be made and it is ok. However, make your child learn accountability by giving them chores to do in a timely manner, like taking out the garbage, cleaning the dishes, or cleaning their room. Make sure you have consequences if they don’t do their chores, for example, no phone or television.
As a parent, you need to create the rules, so your child knows what to do. Your child is more intelligent than you think. They are smarter than lawyers (LOL). Your child can talk their way out of a box, so eliminate as many loopholes as you can to keep them accountable. For example, remind your child of consequences before their actions so they can’t talk their way out of it.
Parents need to let their children experience situations to practice and learn to be independent. It is a trial and error environment that needs to be safe and controlled; to turn failures and mistakes into understanding how to act correctly. That is why you can use sports to your advantage. From responsibility to affection, you can create the best situations and outcomes for your child to develop your trust to be independent. Of course, as a parent, you will always worry. It is the name of the game. But when you can trust your child, it can make you more relaxed. Well, maybe just a little bit.