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What is a teachable moment? It's learning through family. That's what Boys Town provides to tens of thousands of children and parents everyday. And that's what we'll focus on here. Stories of those who we've seen succeed, and ideas on how to help bring Teachable Moments to your home and family, too.

Practice and Preparing Your Kids for the Big Game – of Life
Home » Parenting Advice » Practice and Preparing Your Kids for the Big Game – of Life

by Boys Town Contributor

tags: Connecting with Kids, Parenting Skills

Practice and Preparing Your Kids for the Big Game – of Life

Both of my kids played sports in high school. My daughter loved volleyball; my son was into football.

Over the four years they played, my daughter set, dug and hit thousands of volleyballs and ran through countless drills in practice. My son threw thousands of passes, worked on his drop backs and handoffs every day of the season, and studied formations and all the plays that could be run out of them. Both relied on the constant, consistent teaching of their coaches to improve their form, technique and execution and make them the best they could be.

The purpose of all this teaching, practice and repetition was to make sure that everything they did during an actual game was natural, instinctive and effective. Teaching and continual practice produces what coaches call “muscle memory,” that level of proficiency where a person’s mental and physical abilities seamlessly come together to produce a desired outcome. In sports, that translates to a high level of performance, and hopefully, success on the court or field for the individual and the team.

Practice doesn’t necessarily make athletic skills perfect, but it does make them permanent.

Teaching your child social skills follows the same approach. Just like sports skills, kids don’t learn social skills from “one-and-done” experiences. Social skills have to be taught and retaught, practiced and repracticed. Then your child has to learn how to adapt each skill to a variety of different social situations, just as an athlete has to know how to fit his or her physical skills to the constantly changing action of a game.

Kids aren’t born with social skills, just like they’re not born knowing how to tie their shoes or feed themselves. They have to learn the skills they’re going to need to use as they grow up, and as a parent, you are their primary and most important teacher. You have to teach these skills over and over, practice them with your child constantly and make sure he or she is both old enough and developmentally ready to learn them. And teaching involves more than just telling a child what to do – it also means demonstrating and modeling the skills until the child knows how, when, where and why to use them.

At Boys Town, we’ve spent 100 years developing the best ways to help kids learn, grow and succeed. Decades of research show that our skill-based teaching approach is highly effective in preparing kids for the real-life situations they’ll face and helping them succeed at home, in school and as a productive adult. It’s an approach we greatly encourage families to adapt with their own children because we know it works.

In sports, learning how to do the little things right in practice gives kids their best chance of doing well in a game.  The same is true with social skills. Following instructions. Disagreeing appropriately. Accepting “No” for an answer. Kids need all of these basic skills and many others to become good people, and someday, good employees, good bosses, good parents and good citizens.

The game of life is both challenging and rewarding. Teach your children the social skills they need to succeed, and practice, practice, practice!