Lesson:Recently one of my college roommates and I had a conversation about the benefits and life skills we acquired while being a part of organized sports and activities when we were younger. She was in the marching band and I was a part of several different athletic teams and groups. While they were in different areas, we both experienced the same advantages. We were also both a part of families that required us to do our part and contribute to the good of the family household. Whether that was sweeping the floor, washing the dishes, helping grandma with the laundry, etc. We were trained by our families to be a team player.
As professionals, we’ve both had the opportunity to work with lots of young people and we’ve observed a common thread in terms of young people not having the ability and discipline to think and act like a team player. This is not the case for all young people, but we have seen it enough to have it stand out and take notice. Some young people just simply lack the ability to think like a team player and end up demonstrating a “what about me?” focus during their everyday lives. The mindset of “roll up my sleeves, work hard and get the job done” is not the norm anymore. That is, unless it’s something that interests them or they anticipate an immediate benefit for themselves.
As parents, I believe we should consider the importance of raising our children to have a team mentality. Our children are a part of our family and they will eventually become a part of other groups as well, whether through school, extracurricular activities or in the future when they enter the work force. So, do we want our children to be people who jump in to be a part of a solution when they see a problem? Do we want them to have the foresight, discipline and initiative to start the task or project that they identify needs to get done without someone telling them to do it? Do we want them to have the ability to work cooperatively with others to complete a task? That would be a yes for me! There are very few scenarios where any of us operate independently day in and day out. So preparing our children to be team players will benefit them greatly now and in the future.
Here are two practical ways we can start preparing our children to be a team player:
1-Get them involved with others: Seeking out opportunities for our children to work cooperatively with others is a good initial step. This could begin with our immediate family first. Working on projects together as a family or helping out other family members in need is a good way to demonstrate the importance of family and the benefits that come from working as a team. It could also benefit our children to be a part of a team or group of some kind. Working with others to accomplish a common goal or task is great preparation for adult life. Sticking with a group or team through highs and lows, through wins and losses, builds discipline, perseverance and endurance. These are life skills that our children need in order to be successful in everything.
2-Give children chores: There are so many benefits to giving our children chores and it teaches them important life skills and competencies needed to be a productive adult. Giving our children consistent chores can teach them responsibility, discipline, delayed gratification, a solid work ethic, ownership, and the value of contribution, just to name a few. Some examples of chores include: picking up their toys, helping sort the laundry, sweeping the floor, taking out the garbage and feeding the pets. Of course, age appropriateness of the task is key.
The other thing that is essential, in my opinion, is children should not be paid to do their household chores. I know this is a debatable point but in my professional observation, when children are paid for all of their contributions to their family, it feeds the mindset of, “I’ll help or contribute if something is in it for me.” There should be some basic chores that are just required responsibilities as a member of the family. If our children go above and beyond, then giving them an allowance for those things is appropriate.
Application: First, do some research and identify some organizations or groups that can assist your child getting involved with group activities. Second, brainstorm some practical and age-appropriate household tasks you can assign to your child weekly that will help them develop the mentality and practice of contributing to the family/team.