How Sports Can Help Dads Create a Stronger Connection With Their Kids
Playing, watching, or coaching sports are a fun and effective way for dads to bond with their kids and can result in lifelong memories and useful skills. We’ve developed this resource to provide you with tips to help you become the ultimate father-child team and to help you understand the positive impact that sports can have on your relationship.
This resource includes research from fatherhood expert Dr. Gregory Fabiano.
Dads CAN TEACH Kids HOW TO PLAY WITH OTHERS
- Teach the rules of sports – this helps kids predict, perform and respond when they play with others.
- Show them how to play – this shows kids the right way to care for and use equipment and the fundamental parts of the sport. For example: using two hands to pass a basketball.
- Set limits – this helps teach kids how to play hard, but not aggressively.
- Take turns – this teaches kids to be team players, to play hard in the game, and to cheer for teammates while they’re on the bench.
Dads CAN TEACH Kids HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS
- When playing sports, encourage kids to compliment nice plays made by teammates & opponents.
- Encourage your kid(s) to listen to parents, coaches, the referee and teammates.
- Watch sports together or discuss the game to give you both an opportunity to talk about what happened. This includes the good plays, the “bad” plays, and the fun parts too!
Dads CAN HELP Kids MANAGE THEIR EMOTIONS
- Help your kid(s) learn how to deal with success graciously. Remember to lead by example!
- Encourage them to manage frustration or losses with humility and good sportsmanship.
- Encourage them to focus on the next play, rather than the last play.
- Encourage them to lift up others if they are feeling down, including teammates & opponents.
Dads CAN USE SPORTS TO CONNECT WITH THEIR Kid(s) IN A SHARED INTEREST
- A key factor in why kid(s) may stop playing sports is because they no longer enjoy them. But sports are supposed to be fun!
- Build skills one step at a time. Meet your kid(s) at their level. Remember to celebrate small wins!
- When watching sports together, use this as an opportunity for a discussion starter about how to handle other life events. A bad call by the referee in a game can start a conversation about how to deal with unfairness; viewing a player make a smart play can help start a conversation about decision-making. Remember to have a two-way conversation, not a lecture! Ask open-ended questions as conversation starters, for example: “Why do you think the player did that?”, “What would you do if that happened to you?”
- You are making memories each time you play and watch your child in sports. That great shot or pass your child made is now part of your family’s history books. Remember to work together and keep playing so that the good memories keep rolling in!
Dads CAN USE SPORTS AS A FORUM FOR GROWING & DEVELOPING
- Ensure any constructive feedback is outweighed by at least three positive comments about what your kid(s) do well during the game or practice. Remember to focus on the positives.
- Leave any frustrations about the game on the field/park/driveway. After a loss, find some positive things to say about your kid(s) and how they performed, what they did well and what they can continue to work on during the next game or practice. Remember: your child has forgotten about anything that went wrong during the game, so you should too!