, Salem, MA


May 24, 2013

Dr. Kate's Parent Rap: In children’s sports, parenting goes into OT


I have made more than one oversight myself this sports season. In fact, just this morning my phone rang before 8. My kids were with their father for the weekend (we are a split family) and I had forgotten to pack my younger son’s lacrosse helmet. I needed to get it to him and if he was late to his game it would be my fault. I breathed deeply, feeling the sweat on my tight palms that clutched the steering wheel. Although I stopped myself from actually speeding, my mind was speeding, wondering how I could have overlooked the helmet. Some parents might rely on their kids to manage their gear, but kids’ brains aren’t developed to that level of organization, attention, and memory. In fact, many adult brains are lacking in those areas. Many parents and children already use the strategies that I preach about — the lists, schedules, charts and reminders — and still they miss things sometimes because they’re human and they may be pushing themselves to perform at superhuman levels.

When I arrived to meet my kids with the lacrosse helmet my older son greeted me with a big smile and hug. He helped me feel more like I’d done something right. As for my younger son, he’s pretty forgiving and tends to let go of things once he’s through them. I’ll want to apologize, though, and tell my boys that next time we’ll be more organized with their gear before they leave for the weekend.

I know that when my boys come home tonight, they won’t be thinking about what happened with the lacrosse helmet this morning. Instead, they’ll want to plan their play activities for after school tomorrow. I remind myself that for my boys playing sports is about their love of the game with a team of boys they call their friends. As a parent, I can learn a lot about what’s important by watching and listening to my kids.

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