I took my son to a day of intensive basketball training a while back. Before workouts they play a game called “break the chain” to warm up, encourage teamwork and wake the kids up.
I watched as a simple game became difficult because the kids were not working together. The coach eventually stopped everyone and explained to them that they could not win without acting as a team. It took them a while, but they finally got it.
As I watched them, I realized that teamwork is a hard concept to grasp at any age. We are taught to take care of and worry about ourselves first. But this same thinking can ruin your progression or even your relationships.
Learning to work as a team takes some time but once it’s mastered, things work much better. Here are some of the things I try to emphasize with my kids and, sometimes, even with other adults.
Empathy for teammates, others
To be a great team member, you have to be able to think and care about what others feel.
Kids sometimes don’t understand empathy because many of us adults don’t understand it, either. We assume our kids will just figure out that part of the game by themselves, but that’s not the case.
It starts with us parents first. Letting our kids know that people are different and that that OK is something we can do on the daily. Reminding your kids to be great people starts with them being great toward others. So show them how it’s done.
Communication is key
Everybody thinks are the best communicators in the world. Sorry to burst your bubble most of us really, REALLY suck at it!
Kids, like some adults, think they know it all and assume the most. This can be detrimental to any team. My dad always used to tell me, “Don’t make yourself an ass by assuming you know what others are thinking. “
I’ll never forget that. I always tell my kids that the more details they give me the better the results will be. The only way for anyone to know what you are really thinking is to actually tell them, so why hold back? Assumptions don’t help anyone, real talk does.
A great way to work on communication is to ask your kids questions about every thing and anything that pops up. Even if you understand what they are trying to say, ask for more. Don’t work on understanding them, work on them giving you all the information you need.
You won’t shine alone forever
Kids are quick to blame each other and quick to worry about their own personal accomplishments before they worry about others. Especially when they want to show off for mom or dad.
This is bad in sports and in life. We all hate people who hog the spotlight or take too much credit. Just think of your boss at work LOL, I hate him/her too!
I always tell my son that he can score 100 points in a game but if his team loses no one will care. He doesn’t always remember but that’s cool: he’s a kid.
Take the time to remind your child that his/her team is stronger when everyone is working for each other, not for individual accolades. Remind them that winning as a team is way more important than an individual winning on a team that loses.
Everyone smiles when they win, no one wants the credit for losing especially if it’s their fault!
Chill. Your child isn’t a pro yet
As parents, we think our kids can do no wrong. They are the best at everything we see them doing. Or so we think!
I get it, you created the perfect child but that child can mess up just like everyone else. It only takes one bad link to break the power of a chain.
If your child always thinks he or she is the best and doesn’t need anyone else, they will always be a liability for any team.
It’s our job as parents to keep it 100 with not just yourself but also your children. Even if you think they are great they will always need the rest of the team in order to win or to even improve. They can’t do it alone no matter how good you or they feel they are.
Teamwork is about knowing everyone’s strength and then applying those strengths where others might be weak. A great team player knows this and finds ways to make everyone better. Kids need to that reminder. Just like adults, kid notice when one person acts like they are the best, and sooner or later they will stop interacting with them. This can and probably will kill a team’s moral. Don’t let your child be that kid.
A little teamwork goes a long way
You don’t have to take a full day to just teach your kids about teamwork. Besides incorporating it in everyday life, I like finding activities around building things together like Lego or Home Depot’s Kids Workshops! Here the kids are forced to have to work together or with their parents which makes the lessons easier to apply.
Remember kids learn by examples, so it starts with you. Represent!