Does your young athlete PAY ATTENTION?
Kids have a knack for not paying attention. Whether in school, at practice, or at home, they often let their minds wander away from whatever it is they are supposed to be focused on. Maturity, however, will help them outgrow the tendency to be easily distracted by shiny objects.
But I want to talk about a different kind of paying attention: the kind that involves People.
That ability to pay attention to others is called consideration and it basically means being thoughtful of other people and their feelings. If your child plays youth sports, you have an awesome opportunity to teach him or her the virtue of paying attention to people, a trait that will help your child go far in life.
Paying attention to people means you consider how your actions affect them. You pay careful attention to what others like and don’t like, and do things that give them happiness. Let’s break this down into a practical game plan.
Paying Attention Means Knowing That Your Actions Affect Others
Your child needs to learn that his actions on the team affect his teammates. Kids are often very self-centered, so they may be numb to the fact that what they say and do can influence others.
If your child is a complainer, he could influence others to share his negativity. If you have friends or colleagues who are negative, you know that they aren’t the most enjoyable people to be around. Negative people can be real downers in any conversation. No matter what you say, they have a way of spinning things in a negative direction. Some negative people can be so negative that it feels draining just being around them.
And so it goes with other behaviors…
If your child plays selfishly, it will not only hurt the team, it will alienate and anger teammates.
If your child makes fun of a team member, she may just think she’s having fun, but her jibes could be deeply hurtful to another child.
On the other hand, if your child praises a teammate for a good play, that athlete will feel good about herself.
If your child sees another player has a better shot than he does and passes the ball, the basket is made and the team benefits.
If your child shows respect to the coach, it sets an example for other plays and helps the coach do his job better.
Does your child understand that his actions always affect others? I told my kids over and over that “the world does not revolve around you!”
Be careful what you say and do, it’s not always just about you.
Paying Attention Means You are Aware of What Others Like and Don’t Like
It’s one thing to be a people pleaser who lives for the approval of others and bases all her actions on what others like. That’s not what I’m advocating; that’s not what is meant by consideration.
Being considerate means that you notice the likes and dislikes of others and when there is an opportunity, you choose a behavior that falls in line with those preferences.
How would this look for a young athlete?
Well, maybe your child notices that a teammate doesn’t like to be teased about something, so even when others start taunting, your child–out of consideration–doesn’t join in the chorus. Or maybe your young athlete sees that the coach struggles to unload equipment from her car and–out of consideration–offers to help.
Unfortunately, kids who show consideration to coaches or teachers are often accused of “sucking up.”
But the difference between a child showing sincere consideration and being a “suck-up” is that true consideration does not have selfish ulterior motives; being a “suck-up” does.
Paying Attention Means You Like to Do Things to Make Others Happy
My kids have played for coaches who they could not “figure out” and we always told them, “seek to understand”. Seek to understand what the coach wants and expects of you. Seek to understand what pleases your coach. Seek to understand how you can best play your position to bring a smile on your coach’s face.
There’s nothing weak about wanting to make others happy, unless it’s done out of fear or intimidation.
Being in tune to what makes people happy and then acting on that knowledge when presented with an opportunity is what consideration is all about. It means you consider people; you care about what makes others happy; not just your own needs and wants.
What Happens When Your Young Athlete Pays Attention?
“We rise by lifting others,” said Robert Ingersoll, Civil War Veteran.
When your child “lifts” others by showing consideration, he himself will rise–in character, in the opinions of others, and in influence.
Back in April, I started a series on 52 Virtues. Read what I’ve already written about: Assertiveness, Caring, Cleanliness, Commitment, Compassion, and Confidence.