Your child's first sports season is a nervous, exciting adventure

jonbuzby@hotmail.comApril 8, 2012 

I never would have thought a high-five could mean so much to a child, but then I read a friend's Facebook entry saying that her son looks forward to getting rewarded with a high-five from his tee ball coach more than anything else at this point in his life.

That one comment got me thinking about the role that coaches play in the lives of children all over the country at this time of year when many kids are playing youth sports for the first time ever.

This particular child is playing tee ball, and after two practices, is having the time of his life. Even his mom, who was reluctant to let her 4-year-old son loose under the supervision of another adult for the first time -- he's not old enough to attend school -- now admits that playing this season has matured him in ways she never could at home.

"I've already noticed that it's building his independence," she said. "I see him listening to the coaches and watching attentively at everything that's happening on the field."

And yet as much as he's grown up in a few short weeks, mom claims she still sees signs of her little boy.

"It's pretty cool because he knows that playing baseball makes him a big boy," she added. "Yet every time he catches or throws a ball, he looks over at me for my approval and a 'Good job, honey.' "

Sometimes as parents we forget that playing a sport for the first time is no different than that first day of kindergarten, and it can be tough cutting that cord -- for child and parent. And in this day and age, children often play organized sports before they start going to school, so it literally is the first time in their young lives when they are supervised and instructed by someone other than mom or dad.

If your child is playing a sport for the first time and feels nervous or seems to be having trouble adjusting to his or her new coach or teammates, remember, it's a whole new experience, just like that first day of school was or will be.

As much as we don't want our kids to grow up too fast, sometimes we expect them to do just that. We think that just because it's a sport, there shouldn't be a fear factor. When in fact, there most likely will be.

Often during that first season in a youth sport, learning to catch and throw are the easy parts. For the child, it's harder to listen and follow directions. And for the parents, watching your child admire someone else takes a little getting used to.

After your child's coach gives him a high-five for a great practice, don't forget to give your son or daughter one too, for making the adjustment to the next phase in life -- and for many kids, taking the first step on the path to independence.

Reach Jon Buzby at JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @JonBuzby.

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