The Daily Groove


Soccer Field Parenting

I played a lot of chess when I was a kid, and I learned that to win I had to pay attention to all the pieces on the board — to keep the big picture in mind.

At school I noticed that when the other kids played soccer, they focused only on the ball and mindlessly chased it around the field. But my chess-trained mind resisted the temptation to join the chaotic "clump" of kids surrounding the ball. I paid attention to the whole field and positioned myself such that I could easily score goals when someone kicked the ball out of the clump.

In parenting, children's behavior is like the soccer ball, and the majority of parents are like that clump of kids chasing the ball — focusing too much on behavior and missing the bigger picture.

Today, if your own parenting starts to feel like that ball-chasing chaos, deliberately shift your perspective to a more expansive view — the context in which your child's behavior is arising. The context includes physical, emotional, and developmental considerations.

When you want your child's behavior to change, and you understand why it's happening, you can lovingly address your child's underlying needs and desires, and blend them creatively with your own.

Now that's teamwork! :)

What a great analogy

This really hits home for me because our 6yo son just started a new soccer season. We've been dealing with a regressive behavior issue the past couple months. After reading this daily groove, I can see that we are ball-chasing. Seeing the big picture will still be a challenge (we don't know exactly what is causing the problem), but we need to strive for it.

Re: Soccer Field Parenting

My newly 4 year-old daughter has been having some very cranky moments after ballet class. She just started. Today, I said, "It seems like it must have been pretty hard to have the teacher tell you what to do, when to do it, don't do this ["and don't do that," she added]...when all you wanted to do was run around with your friends and play!"

She nodded in agreement.

And then she told me about how her friend had told her that she wouldn't be friends with her anymore.

Voila. Crankiness over.