by Kristin Kuiper, LMSW, MSW
I attended my daughter’s first soccer game this past weekend—it was, to say the least, highly entertaining to watch this group of four and five year olds play for the first time. Most children on her team have no real concept of the game, but have enrolled this season because they enjoy kicking a ball around or because they have expressed some interest in playing on a team, maybe due to an older sibling’s involvement or watching the game on TV. My husband and I cheered my daughter on with smiles on our faces watching her give us a “thumbs up” and a huge grin each time she touched the ball. She was so proud of herself!
After watching the game, I recognized even more some of the benefits of children being involved in team activities—whether the activity is a sport, a school play, or an orchestra. For children to experience how to accomplish a goal and involve people outside of themselves to do so is such an important life lesson. Being a team player while also working at your own individual expertise is a life skill that they will be able to apply on the job, in their families, and in their communities. While we don’t want to over schedule our children, which can produce anxiety and stress, we do want to give them opportunities to learn these valuable lessons. My daughter, along with her teammates, is learning not only the physical skills necessary for this game, but the social and emotional skills needed in order to succeed together—and this is something I can cheer for!
Plus, now I know where most families with young children spend their Saturday mornings---I had no idea!