I am blessed with the opportunity to share some of my time with your children as a coach. I love to work on technique, to be a positive influence on their day, and watch them grow and develop over time due to hard work and perseverance.
I just have one request: help me coach your kid.
Not just me, but every coach, every teacher, every cub scout leader or whomever is honored with a little time with your child. Don’t let your kid’s coach or teacher be their sole source of instruction. I’ll give you a few ideas on why and how to make a coach or teacher’s job easier so they are more effective instructing your kid, how to strengthen your relationship with your kid in the process, and how to protect your kid from a sometimes dangerous world.
1) Father/Child Bond
Most importantly, helping your kid with homework or teaching them to throw a ball is some of the greatest possible ways to build a strong, loving bond with your child. The strongest memories your kid should have should be of their father spending time with them. Teaching them. Talking to them. I love playing a role in your child’s life on the ball field, but my hope is always that they idolize their father and not their coach.
As a former CIA officer, I always comes back to security. In this sense, you develop the standard baseline interaction with your kid for that activity. You are involved in your child’s life and integrated in their activities. It is more difficult, not impossible, but much more difficult for a potential predator to single your child out and prey on a weak father/child relationship. Plus, you will know immediately what your child is working on with the added benefit of getting in front of a problem before it develops.
3) Emotional Growth
We all know the value of hard work. We know that we will fail at some, perhaps many, things. We know about commitment and fighting through adversity. Hopefully, we have developed the resilience to persevere. So should our children. By coaching your kid, you teach them not just the finer points of technique, but the emotional lessons that come from the good and bad experiences. When your kid strikes out or loses a game, I, as their coach, don’t always have the time to focus their negative emotions into a growth opportunity at that second. My time with your child is very limited and those emotions last well into the evening when the most growth from the experience can be obtained. This is where you need to pick up the ball and turn the event into a teachable moment. Coddle them by helping them grow, focused on overcoming rather than ignoring or making excuses. Help them work harder. Help them commit to getting better (and not giving up). Help develop that resilience to persevere the next time, and the time after that.
4) Don’t be Over-Protective
Being over-protective robs kids the opportunity to really grow. It hampers their ability to make confident decisions. It impedes their ability to develop and trust their own judgement. And ultimately, it teaches them to avoid situations where they have to make tough decisions. I am not talking about protective gear excessiveness (however…), but specifically the emotional protectiveness. Your kid doesn’t need you on the bench comforting them over the missed kick or a strike out. They need to work through the failure, ignite the fire to overcome, and get back out there hungry to improve.
This speaks to the emotional growth point above, but is very specific to the action of the parent. Step back. Let your kid fail, let your kid learn, let your kid grow. Let their actions and decisions be corrected by their coach or teacher. Let their actions and decisions be corrected by themselves. You will get your chance to swoop in and save the day, just give your child a little time to work through the problem on their own.
5) Reflect on Experiences: Success and Failure
If you aren’t actively coaching and teaching, you are less able to help reflect on their experiences. Sure, your kid missed the easy goal and you saw and you can discuss it. What about the technique used on the less exciting defense? Success and failure are rarely a single act, but a process that builds in the act. Teaching your child to reflect on the process improves their ability in the act.
6) Equip Them with Skills and Character to Learn
Sending your kid off to school or their sport without the proper equipment is unthinkable (actually, I see it every season). We make sure our kids have the tools they need. Backpack, pencils, glove, cleats. Why then is it ok to not ensure they have the skills and character to learn? Being smart isn’t a skill or character. Neither is being talented. I am talking about the ability to learn, to set excessive confidence aside, to not take correction and coaching as an attack. When parents tell their kids how smart or talented they are, the kids believe them, then the kids remind the coach. This results is the coach having an unteachable, uncoachable know-it-all on their hands and growth ceases. I have an incredible amount of patience with kids; I have very little when the kid is past the point of coaching. The skills to learn allows your child to become teachable and coachable. From the classroom to the ball field.
One of the hardest things about coaching are the kids who don’t know how to listen to or respect the time of their coach. I’m sure this translates to the classroom. Some kids either don’t pay attention at all, are unable to accept adjustments to their technique or behavior without getting emotional, think they are the greatest gift to the activity, or simply do not have the aptitude to respect others. It might appear cute or part of their “outgoing personality,” but the folks developing your children see it differently and will treat your child differently.
I’ll keep it short and sweet, the concept is easy to understand. I love and cherish the time I have with your kid, it allows me to spend some time with my own kid. I just want to ensure your kids are getting the attention they deserve, the ability to improve their skills, and the opportunity to really enjoy the activity in which they are investing their short time as children.