Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Silent Sidelines

Teamwork. Friendship. Fun. That's why Amanda loves soccer. She will probably not be going to college on a soccer scholarship, but I will support her desire to play as long as she continues to learn those values while she's at it.

In her soccer league, they have one day each season that calls for "silent sidelines." The coaches, and (ahem) the parents are to be silent. Cheering when they make a goal or a great kick is acceptable of course, but this rule does more than just outlaw the negative "help" that many parents give from the sidelines. We could do without that every week. It includes any instruction from the sidelines--parents or coaches:
Look out for that girl!

Take it to the goal!

Pass it to Ana!
The reasoning behind this is sound. They need to learn to work as a team, to exercise their judgment on the skills that they've been learning all year. Even when the input is positive and helpful, it is still a deterrent to them actually learning the skills themselves.

I think that when we close our mouths and just watch, we are often surprised at the choices that they make on their own. All of Amanda's teammates know that Ana can take it to the goal. They don't need us nagging away on the sidelines.

Isn't this true in life as well as sports?
Don't watch that movie.

Invite the new girl to sit with you at lunch.

Be kind to your brother.

All very instructive words. All things that we should be helping our children to understand. But when do we let their moral compass kick in? When do we begin to let them feel the consequences or reap the rewards of their own choices?

When I was a teenager, I remember that there were a few times that I thought that my room was getting a bit too messy, even for my standards, and I had designated Saturday to getting it in order. Then the ultimatum would come down on Friday, "If you don't get your room clean, you won't be doing anything this weekend." That changed things. Now I wasn't able to do it because I knew it had to be done. The command often led to rebellion, "Well, fine, I'll just stay home then."

Teamwork. Friendship. Fun. All life skills that I want Amanda to be learning around here as well with a little coaching and a little golden silence. The key is recognizing those silent sidelines moments.

Can you share a time when not coaching your children helped them reach the right decision on their own? Are there things that you are adamant about continuing to coach them on until they get it right?


angeleyes Blue said...

My 15 year old son would say mom define Right. I look at my room and it looks right to me.

When my two were younger we had an opportunity to either join AYSO which is VERY competitive or Premier Soccer. The kids just played for fun and EVERYONE was included. Any parent who shouted negative comments out to the team or any team was asked to leave the sidelines and go to their car.

Amazing how peer pressure still works when you are in your 20's and 30's.

Your daughter and her friends look adorable. Enjoy this time. The teenage YEARS are next. :)

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

I'm always on my daughter to show respect, and will stay on her until she gets that one "right". She's getting there...I think it's just a habit that has to be learned.

I've tried to lay off follow up questions such as "Did you say thank you?" or "Have you brushed your teeth?" but sometimes I'm not so great about remembering to forget that!

Lori said...

Being silent is so hard for me - I always feel like I have to "remind."

I watched Perry today helping another little boy at golf camp - and I knew it was his idea and he wasn't asked to. Those are my proud moments. But the non-proud moments always sneak in too. That's when I don't know whether to be silent or commanding.

Great post to ponder...

Katrina said...

Like Lori, I struggle with this. I tend to nag Camden, even when I know I should step back and give him a chance to decide for and act on his own. I did have one good "silent sidelines" moment recently, involving him cleaning up his section of the garage. I didn't bug at all, and one morning he took the initiative and did it on his own. Not only was I proud of him, but his sense of accomplishment was much greater than had I bullied him into it.

T with Honey said...

Sound advice!

I have a two year old and toddlers are full of moments where they say "I do!" They constantly want you to step back and let them do things on their own, no coaching. Just this morning Princess had one of those moments. She wanted to put her shoes on by herself. So Honey and I sat at the breakfast table and didn't even watch. Two minutes later she was running over with her shoes on. She did it all on her own for the very first time. The shoes were on the right feet and everything! She needed some coaching to teach her the basics but it wasn't until we let her go and do it on her own that she really learned.

relevantgirl said...

I'm amazed at what happens when I'm quiet. My son played a video game farrrrr too long. I almost restricted him from it. Instead, last night we came downstairs: "Mom, tomorrow I'm not going to play my game."

He made the decision himself. I applaud that!

Susanne said...

This was a great post, Jennifer. Very thought provoking the way you took the principal from sports into everyday life.

@manda said...

I will too get a soccer scholership!!!!!!!!!!!!!!