Friday, November 24, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Sporting events teach children how to act in social settings

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My family just achieved a major milestone — we made it through an entire baseball game without having to leave early.

When you have young children, a lengthy outing that requires them to sit still can be difficult. We've been taking our 7-year-old son to minor league baseball games since he was 1, and it wasn't always enjoyable. An active kid, he never wanted to sit for more than a few innings. After all, he was a toddler, so my husband and I recognized his limited patience.

We understood that staying for the entire game wasn't a realistic option, so we expected to leave early. As he got older and got used to attending games, we were able to stay for more innings. He also became interested in the game, and eventually started playing baseball.

Minor league games are a great place to take kids because there typically is more room for kids to move around without disturbing other fans. Also, some ballparks have an open grassy area that provides ample space for families to spread out while still having a good view.

Because he got used to attending baseball games, we were also able to expand to football, soccer, and basketball games. Then when Ryan was 3, our daughter was born and we were back to square one. Just when we finally got Ryan used to attending games, we had to start all over again with our daughter.

Think about how many times you've seen a young child crying at a sporting event. Because a lot of kids don't really know what's happening on the field, they get bored, or they just don't want to sit in their seat. Ultimately, when kids start getting upset, this causes upheaval for the whole family. This is a familiar scenario for a lot of families. You want to take your kids to events, but it's challenging because you're limited by how long your kids will cooperate. It can be tempting to just skip events altogether and forgo the hassle.

Though this may be a tempting option, kids need to practice being in social settings. It's not fair to expect them to sit for three hours if they've never had to before. The more they're exposed to different venues and activities, the better they'll be prepared for the next time. Eventually, they will know what to expect and what behavior is expected of them.

Though there is plenty of baseball season left, I'm already looking forward to football season, because now that our kids are pros at attending baseball games, I think they'll be ready to take on a Bucs game.

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