3 life skills that playing youth football will teach your child

By Janis Meredith | Posted 12/13/2017

I’m sure you’ve heard many times that playing football will teach your child life skills. I believe very strongly that it offers a golden opportunity for youth football parents and coaches to help develop tomorrow’s leaders.

After being a sports mom for 22 years, my kids are now 30, 27, and 24 years old. They played sports from 3-4 years old through college. There’s no doubt that sports took up a lot of time, money, and energy, but all that could have been wasted if we hadn’t tried to focus on using their experiences to grow them into strong adults.

Even though we were by no means perfect sports parents, we did our best to make a valuable return on investment for the years our family devoted to youth sports. And the result? Our three kids have life skills that they learned through years of competition. And today those skills, while not necessarily perfect, are being honed and made even stronger.

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Here are three important life skills that playing sports will teach your child:

Life Skill #1: Courage

Courage is a life skill that shows itself in many ways. In youth football, it can mean: standing up to bullies, trying out for a new team, or experimenting with playing an unfamiliar player position.

I saw my kids grow their courage many times as they played sports. Sometimes it came after tears and discouragement. In fact, it usually comes through a hardship; you see, courage cannot grow in a vacuum. It only grows when difficulties push it to the surface. Each time children face challenges and push through, their courage grows a little stronger.

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Life Skill #2: Commitment

As children learn to be part of a team, they understand that they depend on their teammates, and their teammates depend on them. They know that, whether or not they feel like it, they’ve got to show up and play their best. That’s commitment, sticking with something even when you don’t feel like it.

Don’t let your children get into the habit of giving up. Encourage them to see things through. That endurance and is a characteristic they will need in marriage, in parenting, and in their jobs.

Life Skill #3: Communication

One of the tools children will need as they develop and maintain healthy relationships in life is good communication. It’s easy for parents to get impatient and put words in their kids’ mouths. You want to take on their battles – with the coach, with a teammate, with a sibling – but speaking for them robs them of the chance to learn the valuable skill of communicating properly.

Your children do not need you to interpret everything they say. Let them carry the conversation without you jumping in to clarify. It’s such a parental instinct, I know, to want to do that. I’m a person of words, and it sometimes took real personal discipline to not interject myself into my child’s conversations because it was not being said the way I thought it should.

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Everyone can talk, but not everyone knows how to communicate clearly and consistently. The best way for your children to learn that is to gently guide them in sparingly appropriate times without always correcting them or stepping in to speak for them. Sometimes, you just have to let them stumble through it on their own and learn as they go.

If all the money and time you spend on youth football yields these three life skills in your child, your investment was a profitable one, and one that will return rewards for you and your child for life.

Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for sports parents. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about good sports parenting habits in her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents, available on Amazon.