She’s utterly convinced that team sports are crucial to self-esteem building, and that I’d better get my kid started with one–NOW–before he falls hopelessly behind.
First of all, HE’S FIVE. There are lots of reasons to do team sports, but there are even more reasons to build garages for all your BOB trucks. Or put on goggles and swim across the living room. He’s FIVE.
I totally believe in sports, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not so sure that it’s the only path to self-esteem.
Take me, for example. I actually played soccer for four years. But in all those years, I NEVER started. If I was lucky, I got to sub in for a bit. This is because I stunk. Yes, I stunk less after four years of practice. But soccer was never something that made me feel particularly good about myself.
Then there was music. At first I wasn’t a very good singer, either. But I felt sure that there was a gifted musician somewhere in me, and I worked hard to develop my musical skills. Wonderful teachers and counselors (hey Buck’s Rock!) believed in me and gave me what I needed to succeed. Eventually I blossomed into a talented vocalist, and sang in high school musicals, choruses, and college A Capella groups. I even led a few ensembles.
I had found my thing. And it wasn’t sports.
Friends with sky-high self-esteem echo my experience–sometimes it was drama, sometimes it was violin, and yes, sometimes it was sports. But it wasn’t about the sports, per say–it was about finding your passion and working hard to succeed at it.
The self-esteem that comes from that kind of success stays with you for a lifetime. I don’t sing too much these days, but I still believe I can do anything I put my mind to.
So even as I start researching little leagues and swim teams for my little boy (who is SO much more athletically gifted than I ever was) I’m keeping this in mind:
Team sports are great, and I will continue to provide him with that experience for as long as he wants it. But ultimately, my job as a parent will be to help my son find that one thing that makes HIM feel like a superstar.
I don’t care if it’s chess or ice hockey, so long as it makes his heart sing.