As a hockey parent, there is nothing I love more than watching my boys play the sport they love. I love watching them give it their all out on the ice and since both of our boys are forwards, we get to watch them score goals too!
But recently, our youngest was moved to defence. He was DEVASTATED! I mean, there was anger and tears and more tears. In his defence, he had never played the position before and was nervous about what he was supposed to be doing. But through the tears, he played his new position as best he could and turns out…he’s not a bad little defender! His team won that game and while he’s still not convinced about being a defender permanently, it gave us a chance to teach him what it means to be a team player.
He’s always been a very good teammate. Lots of high fives when others play well, cheering from the bench, he’s nice to his teammates, he passes the puck. He’s got all that down. But he also has very big emotions, and he simply did not know how to handle them when he was suddenly moved to a new position he didn’t know, didn’t play, and clearly…didn’t want to play. This situation gave us a chance to explain to him how it’s important to do what’s best for his team, not just himself.
If you’re trying to teach your kids what it means to be a team player, here are some tips on how you can encourage that quality in them:
Showcase Their Strengths – In our situation, the reason he was moved was because he has speed and isn’t afraid to dig for the puck. When he heard these reasons, a slight smile spread across his face. He thought they put him on defence because he wasn’t a good forward, but when he heard the reasons were because of his strengths, not weaknesses, he felt much better.
Put a Positive Spin on the Negative – Our team has more forwards than defenders. So, our defenders get more ice time because of it. When he heard that, he started slowly warming up to the idea.
Show Your Support – When he was out there on that ice playing defence, we were his biggest fans in the stands. Every single time he made a good play and looked up at us, we were all smiles and thumbs up! Showing your child that you support them no matter what goes a long way!
Speak to YOUR Child - We know our son. He’s competitive. So, if we wanted him to see this new position in a different light, we had to speak to what matters to HIM. We explained that instead of scoring goals, he’s going to be stopping goals. He is going to be the reason the other team doesn’t score. His face lit right up! That was all he needed to hear.
If I’m being honest, he still prefers forward. No question about it. But when he shows up for a game and his coach tells him he’s playing defence, he knows there’s a reason for it. He knows he’s in that position because that’s where he’s needed.
I think he now fully understands what it means to be a team player. In sports, and hopefully, in life.