Perhaps one of the most time-honored and consistent lessons that society as a whole has deemed fit to teach all children is the importance of being a team player, and it certainly isn’t due to a lack of other curriculum to choose from.
While often taught anywhere from the classroom to the soccer field, the lessons associated with learning how to be a team player transcend both and have a positive impact on how children develop socially, familial, as well as helping to develop that all so important, yet often neglected, moral compasses, that seems children are finding harder and harder to navigate with (in my opinion).
Being aware and knowing basic educational practices, chances are, your child will already have a fair bit of exposure to the concept of teamwork throughout their early childhood. For some children, it seems, the concept of teamwork comes more naturally, while with others, a little more care and attention are required.
Bearing that mind, I don't ever recall, anyone, ever, complaining about someone being ‘too much’ of a team player, which leads me to believe that it is amongst the few life lessons, such as kindness and forgiveness that no child could possibly be taught too much of.
Thus, I have taken the liberty of finding ways for you to help instill the idea of teamwork into your child (in no particular order), as well, the reasoning behind it and the benefits of it, just in case you need a little extra encouragement, as we all do sometimes.
10 Encourage Your Kids To Respect their Teachers, Coaches, Elders, Officials And Most Importantly You
Fact: Children don’t really run their lives; you do; along with the multitude of other authority figures entrusted with the task.
There is a reason behind this, and that is simply because children rely on us to teach them, guide them, and ultimately make sure they stay alive (and everything that comes along with it). Given that we, as adults are authority figures in many children’s lives, it only begs to reason that role should be a respected one; one that can certainly be questioned, but ultimately resides as the judge and jury.
Very often this role isn’t glamorous, and sometimes won’t win you any friends, but your first job isn’t to be their friend; It's much bigger than that, and I believe that children can be taught to recognize and respect it when they learn they too are part of something bigger than themselves.
9 Encourage Your Kids To Encourage Other Kids
Everybody has good and bad days, and it is on those bad days, that sometimes a little encouragement from a coworker or spouse can go a long way; children are no exception.
If anything, children need more encouragement, than adults as they have relatively less experience dealing with the inevitable reality that disappointment will in some form or other present itself in their lives(no matter how we try to prevent it).
Teaching children to encourage one another, and help them pick up others when they have fallen down, will not only provide them with a life-long kind heartedness, but it will also push for a whole new generation of capable of greater understanding and compassion.
8 Encourage Your Kids To Learn And More Importantly, Follow The Rules
We live in a world that is abounded with rules; some I think we would all agree are necessary, while other, questionable at best, but regardless of our opinions on them, they must be followed (for the most part).
Children need to learn as early as possible, that when they do not obey the rules, there will be consequence. This is by no means a way to be cruel, rather a head start, and arguably the easier route, when one understands that their actions have consequences as it something that every adult is faced with a daily basis.
I am a big fan of teaching cause and effect, and it can also be a fun way to spend time with your kids. While the lesson is important, it doesn't mean teaching can’t be enjoyable. Anything from vinegar and baking soda, to watch the sun set, the world is riddled with examples of cause and effect. Find the best one that your child can relate to, and I promise it will be a lesson you are glad you taught.
7 Be A Good Example For Them (They Watch You A Lot)
I will keep this one short and sweet; monkeys see, monkeys do (pretty sure I've said that before in another article, but I like it).
Your kids watch you more than you could possibly imagine, and it is because of this reason it is important to set a good example for them. The easiest way to teach your child about teamwork is to practice it, show them how to play well with others and tell them the importance of it along the way. It's easier than you think.
6 Encourage Your Children To Graciously Accept Loss
As hard as we try to protect and shield our children from anything and everything that might harm them or cause them pain, the reality is that loss in some form or another is inevitable. But like many things in life, preparedness can go a long way.
Loss does not mean defeat, and it is important for so many reasons that your child understands that, such as self-confidence, dealing with conflict and humility. I've always believed that you learn more from a loss, then you do from a win, and I think children can grasp this concept better than we might think.
5 Teach Your Children Patience And Persistence
Conveniently pairing nicely with the previous point, loss does not mean defeat, certainly is a prime time and adage to the lesson of patience and persistence.
While difficult to pin, down exactly who said this, I will cover myself by paraphrasing:
“Every professional was once an amateur, and every expert was once a student.”
Children need to learn to get back up when they fall down, even when there isn’t necessarily all the encouragement they deserve.
4 Encourage Your Kids To Have Fun
Most things (and don’t over think it by trying to prove me wrong), are better when they are done with others. That is why team sports began and continue to dominate the media, while the lonely chess channel often gets often gets overlooked (I lied, I don’t really know if there is a chess channel).
Children involved and encouraged to participate in team activities will typically make more friends, have more fun, and learn many of the important lessons that come, and can only from participating in activities as a team.
Also, and it’s okay to be selfish sometimes, it gives you the chance to have a little fun too. Soccer moms and baseball dads can often be some of the few adult relationships many parents have when their children are young, so take advantage of it.
3 Provide Opportunities To Learn And Practice What They've Learned
While I know it is easier for some families than others; it is important to try to provide you child with the opportunity to participate in team sport or activities.
All across the country, there are programs available to help children get involved in sports and group activities that are often free if not substantially subsidized. It is worth looking at resources in your area, and prudent to get a head start as spaces often fill up fast.
The soccer field, however, is not the only place that your child can practice teamwork. Have them practice it around the house, be it from offering to help set the table, or even carry in some groceries from the car. I remember as a kid I used to those things all the time, and to this day when I visit parents, I still do it.
2 Teach Your Children To Accept Criticism
Nobody is perfect, and few are very good at anything the first time around; that is why we have teachers. But sometimes accepting criticism; however, constructive can be difficult, and I am not just referring to children here.
I think that both parents and children could always use a refresher on accepting criticism, and it can be a good opportunity for all of you as a family to take a refresher course.
I found it helpful to call a family meeting, or even just broach the subject around the dinner table and have everybody say something about somebody else at the table that they wish they would do differently.
It seems harmless, but no, this can go terribly wrong very quickly, if not prefaced with this, and no I don't have this copy written, nor do I think the teacher who told me it did either “Say anything you want, as long as you say what you mean, mean what you say, and don't say it mean." I also think it would make a great poster for a child's room if you're the artsy type.
1 Reward Them!
Being a team player is a positive trait, and one that could use a little reward now and then just to reinforce it. Whether it is ice-cream after the game (win or lose) or that toy, they wanted because they surprised one day, by going out of their way and practicing the lessons that you have to instill in them. And while you're at, treat yourself to something too, you've done well teacher!