7 Important Things I Learned About Parenting

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You don’t get a handbook on how to be a parent when your kids are born. True, there are books on parenting – but all the books in the world couldn’t prepare you for what your individual experience will be like. Instead, you simply have to rely on what knowledge you have and your instincts, and try to do the best job possible.

Coaching a children’s team is similar to becoming a parent. You take your own experiences, and adjust them to this new situation. I’ve spent a decade coaching little league, and throughout the years, I’ve picked up a lot of insights that have led me to become a better coach. However, what I didn’t anticipate is that coaching would also make me a better parent. Here are the ten most important things I’ve learned about parenting by being a little league coach:

1. Treat all the children fairly. Often, our instincts are to protect our kids, give them every opportunity for success, and praise them. However, when you’re coaching your own kids, you have to be fair to all the children on your team. I tend to give other children more time on the field, because I give mine extra attention at home – in turn, it’s teaching my kids to be more fair, too.

2. Have confidence in your kids. Because I give my children extra coaching when we play as a family, I encourage them to help teach other kids on the field. Giving them this added responsibility makes them take little league more seriously, and helps them negotiate the relationships they have with their teammates versus the one they have with me, who happens to be their father and coach.

3. Don’t forget to show appreciation for your children. Sometimes, rather than wanting to praise your kids and give them all the field time possible, coaching has the opposite affect on a parent and makes them much harder on their own children. I have to remember that this is a formative experience for them, too, and that even though my kids get more training and attention at home, they still deserve to be rewarded for working hard and doing a great job, when it’s appropriate.

4. Always be caring, supportive, and giving with your team. There are those days when coaching can be frustrating. Sometimes, one child will continue to have a difficult time doing something that all the other kids have mastered, and you have to make a choice concerning how to handle the situation. When I’m tempted to have the whole team move forward and not draw attention to it, I realize that then that child doesn’t get the help they need – and since my kids are on the team, my choice will also affect them. Typically, I will utilize an assistant coach, my kids, or a parent who’s watching practice to supervise as the team goes over a drill that they’re already familiar with while I help the child who needs it. Or, I’ll ask their parent to bring them to the next practice early so we can work on it. I want to see those caring, supportive, and giving qualities in my kids, so I have to practice them myself.

5. Try new things. You always want to encourage your kids to break out of their comfort zone, try new things, and grow. But you shouldn’t forget to do this, too – you’re never too old to try something new, and your kids will learn by example.

6. Be prepared and on time. This is one of those “no brainers,” but it bears mentioning – when children and parents depend on you, you have to be there for them, and for your own kids. If you don’t respect other people’s time, you’re teaching your kids a bad habit that’s difficult to break.

7. Have fun. As a coach, sometimes it’s tough not to get wrapped up in winning. However, baseball is just a game: it, and life are meant to be enjoyable!

Though you don’t get a handbook for parenting, you can learn so much from your own, every day experiences. Whether you’re coaching a team, chaperoning a field trip, or helping out at a school fundraiser, there’s always an opportunity to grow as a parent and be the best one possible for your kids.

Kevin Christofora is the author of The Hometown All-Stars children's book series, illustrated by Dale Tangeman. www.thehometownallstars.com. Christofora new book, Nick’s Very First Day of Baseball, introduces young readers to the classic sport while showing them that outdoor activity is a great way to play.



Updated 3:28 pm, April 23, 2015
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