kids with football helmets

Our culture often places more emphasis on individual effort than on teamwork. One of the best reasons for getting kids into sports is to teach them at an early age how to be team players. While you may be proud of them for committing to a sport, you can help them understand that there is more to team sports than just sticking with it. Encourage your child to thrive in a group environment with these tips.

See the Other Trees, Not Just the "Me's"
"No I in TEAM" is a primary tenant of teamwork. Help your child understand that what's best for the team as a whole may not always be best for any single player. For example, in baseball one player may need to bunt out in order to advance their teammates on the bases. Use the analogy of seeing each individual as a tree that makes upthe whole forest, the team--and not just the tree that represents "me."

Take Responsibility
It can be difficult for kids to take ownership of their mistakes. When something goes wrong, it's easier to point a finger than to own the mistake. However, a key component of being a team player is taking responsibility for your own missteps. Reassure your child that everyone makes errors and that it's better to admit them than to try to blame a teammate for something you know was your fault.

Respect the Value of Each Position
Whether your child is the team captain or a third-string player, they must learn to see the value of each position on the team. Even the top quarterback can't score a touchdown alone. If your child becomes too arrogant about their skills or demoralized about a lack of them, remind them that everyone's role is essential to making up the team.

Promote Team Unity
Your child may be ahead of the team in their understanding of good sportsmanship and teamwork. Encourage them to stand as an example in promoting teamwork and leading other players towards harmony. Remind them that doing so now may pay off in the future, as team players are often recognized for their model behaviour and chosen as team captains.

Encourage Others
It's easier for others to understand you if you attempt to understand them. Suggest that your child should try putting teammates' needs ahead of their ownand encouragethem in their goals and efforts. Your child might find that their teammates will start treating them the same way and build a sense of camaraderie amongst the team.

Enjoy the Game
When details of who did what during the game become too central, it's easy to lose sight of the fun of playing. Try to help your child keep a balanced perspective about the activity. Check in with them to make sure that they're still enjoying it. As teamwork is easier when you like what you're doing, encourage your child to find a sport they love. If their love for it fades over time, help them consider other extracurricular options.