Soccer Field Parenting

by Scott Noelle

I played a lot of chess when I was a kid, and I learned that to win I had to pay attention to all the pieces on the board — to keep the big picture in mind.

At school I noticed that when the other kids played soccer, they focused only on the ball and mindlessly chased it around the field. But my chess-trained mind resisted the temptation to join the chaotic “clump” of kids surrounding the ball. I paid attention to the whole field and positioned myself such that I could easily score goals when someone kicked the ball out of the clump.

In parenting, children’s behavior is like the soccer ball, and the majority of parents are like that clump of kids chasing the ball — focusing too much on behavior and missing the bigger picture.

Improve Your Groove

Today, if your own parenting starts to feel like that ball-chasing chaos, deliberately shift your perspective to a more expansive view — the context in which your child’s behavior is arising. The context includes physical, emotional, and developmental considerations.

When you want your child’s behavior to change, and you understand why it’s happening, you can lovingly address your child’s underlying needs and desires, and blend them creatively with your own.

Now that’s teamwork! :)

Originally published on 2007-08-14
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