By The U.S. Center for SafeSport
If your child is playing a team sport, they are working on developing an important life skill: working together as a team. Teamwork skills include listening, leading, communicating, problem solving, and collaborating. Here are some ways you can help your child learn to work well with their team.
Working through team dynamics
Sports teams are made up of athletes with differences – there will be a variety of skill levels, communication styles, and personalities. A good coach will meet young athletes where they are. That could mean supporting players who need extra help, encouraging more introverted kids to join in, and helping more dominant players listen to and respect their teammates.
Make it part of your routine to check in on your child’s relationship with their peers and coach. Listen for any behaviors (positive or negative) that sound alarms. Is there any conflict brewing? How does the coach manage different learning styles? Is anyone being singled out?
Inclusive teams will welcome athletes of all backgrounds and abilities. But too often, certain kids are excluded in sports, especially youth with disabilities, youth of color, and LGBTQ+ youth.
Encourage your child to include their teammates when playing.
Model inclusive language at home and encourage your child to practice it with their team. For example, you can use gender-neutral terms like “everyone,” and say “kids without disabilities” instead of “normal kids” so you don’t imply that kids with disabilities are not normal.
Help your child practice how to respond if someone is being mean or leaving them out. For example, if they feel comfortable, they can say “Stop it. That’s not nice.”
Make sure your child understands they should always let you know if a coach continually isolates them or another child.
When coaches, players, and parents work together, they can create a more positive sport environment for everyone.