I had a very new experience this past spring. I helped coach soccer. Completey new to me. Jordan’s coach had a baby and could not coach the last few games. I helped with all of the games and tried to learn whatever I could to prepare myself (outside of sitting down and watching coaching tutorials on Youtube.)
Not all kids are athletes. They aren’t going to be no matter how hard they try. Not everyone has natural athletic ability. Some of these kids have it and some don’t. Some you can tell with a little work will be just fine. You can tell these things from a very early age.
I think it’s important for kids to be active and engaged in some sort of activity. It doesn’t have to be sports. It can be anything, just as long as they’re being social and exercising at the very least their minds. I do feel physical activity is important though, whether it’s running around the yard or playing an organized sport.
These kids are young. For many, this might be their first activity. So sometimes social skills aren’t exactly on the same level as their peers whom have been through this a few times over. They understand the importance of listening to the coach and respecting their teammates. They know how to act on the sidelines. Some kids are in outer space. And that’s okay.
What is not okay, that I have seen far too many times, is parents who simply don’t parent their children in social settings. They let their kid act out and do whatever they want. They let their kid disrespect the coach and their teammates.
It is absolutely infuriating. I’ve met a lot of parents over the past few years. I’ve met some amazing and engaged parents. I’ve met some shitty parents who are living their fallen dreams and aspirations vicariously through their children. I’ve met parents who just don’t listen and cannot see the signs that their children are unhappy participating in the activity. There is a grand spectrum here. I’ve mostly been met with parents though who are wonderful, and I’m grateful for that. I’ve met some very nice people through ice hockey, dek hockey, and now soccer and I’m happy to have our kids play together any time they’d like.
But there are still that offset of parents who just let their kids go. They don’t correct them or guide them in some direction that will set them up for success.
What bothered me on the last day of soccer was the parent of a child who has been nothing short of a thorn in my side for the whole season, and most especially the last game. The dad didn’t intervene until the game was just about over after anyone with eyes and ears could clearly see that I was having an issue with this kid. He was out of control. He refused to stand on the sidelines. He would run on and off the field as he pleased, forcing me to make adjustments because I’d have too many players or not enough on the field. He was hitting the other kids with practice balls and kicking them. He kept stealing snacks and drinks off of kids.
I felt like a broken record trying to reign him in and get him to stay put and behave like his teammates.
After the game, his dad approached me and complimented my own kid’s ability. I thanked him and said that Jordan is kind of a natural athlete. He responded with, “My son is a natural couch potato.”
I was sort of taken aback by that. I know that Jordan can be a bit of one himself, but for the most part, he loves being outside and playing with his friends and playing sports.
My point here is if your child is a couch potato, you have no one to blame but yourself. You control your child’s activities.
I am a firm believer that children need to be involved in activities. It keeps them out of trouble. It helps them develop social skills and make friends. It helps their self esteem. It helps them learn valuable skills. Whether it’s a sport, an instrument, a reading group, a summer camp, swimming lesson, or Cub Scouts, there are hundreds of activities available, and many for either a very small fee or even just the cost of your time. Libraries run incredibly affordable summer programs that focus on reading or science.
Sitting on the couch doing nothing and being good at it isn’t something to be proud of and you’re doing your child a disservice. Get outside! It’s summer! Go to the park. Go for a walk. Go sit at the library or a comic book store and read. Help your child find their passion and encourage them to stay with it!
The point is, no child’s talent should be the label of “couch potato.” You are the parent. Your sons and daughters look up to you and depend on you for social guidance. Allowing your kid to talk back to teachers and coaches and to pick on their peers is setting them up for long term problems. Nip it in the bud now while they are young.
Be the parent.