This is especially true for young athletes.
With the rise in organized youth sports in recent years, it’s not unusual to find parents driving their kids to and from practices up to an hour away, 5 nights a week, with tournaments on weekends – almost as if the parent’s lives revolves solely around a sports schedule.
And if a child is especially skilled on the court or field, he or she can garner such over-the-top attention from coaches or parents it’s easy to see why a sense of entitlement starts to brew.
One way to keep kids from feeling entitled is to teach them gratitude. Help them realize playing sports is a privilege. Games, tournaments, teams and leagues wouldn’t exist without the effort and hard work of many people.
Besides gaining a more thoughtful child athlete, teaching kids to be grateful benefits them in other ways. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, grateful teens are more likely to be happy, less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and less likely to have behavior problems at school.
Follow these simple suggestions to teach gratitude to your child.
Simply say thanks
Teach kids to notice the effort and time commitment of coaches, officials, volunteers and gym staff, by acknowledging them and saying thanks. They can greet the workers as they enter the gym or arrive at the field. Win or lose, shake hands with the officials. Thank the coaches for the opportunity to play. Respect the people sweeping the gym floor or lining the field. By recognizing how many people play a part in putting on a competition, kids begin to see past themselves.
Help around the house
Even if your child is super busy with school, sports practices and games, insist that your kid contribute to household chores. Helping out around the house instills a sense of responsibility and satisfaction. It also helps kids realize the amount of work that goes into running a household.
Volunteer as a family
Many sports leagues require families to volunteer their time to help the competitions run smoothly. Sign up for a time when your athlete isn’t competing and enlist the help of the entire family to sell concessions, collect admissions, or clean up. Involving kids in acts of service teaches them to be less self-centered and instead focus on others.
Earn what they get
Kids often want the latest and greatest sports apparel, shoes, or gear. Often these things come with a high price tag. Instead of buying them whatever they want, make them work for it. Kids are never too young to learn the value of hard work to get what they want.
Teaching kids to be grateful means sometimes denying your child that brand-name pair of shoes when his old ones still fit. Or that shiny new athletic bag, when his current one will do. Kids who grow up consistently being handed a steady stream of stuff are less likely to appreciate the things they have.
By coaching your child athlete to grow up grateful, they’ll learn important lessons that will help them succeed in life beyond the sports arena.