After spending the morning cheering for my son and his lacrosse team, while observing a mom struggling with two younger kids, I decided to write this post. The mom kept her cool, but I could tell she was aggravated with her other two children. She spent most of her time telling them not to go anywhere, stop fighting, and no, the game isn’t over. In all fairness, they brought a blanket and that was it. I’d be bored too.
Now, I can look at this a couple of ways: how irritating to have the constant disruption for those of us trying to enjoy the game, and then there is the perspective of the mom who is trying to support one child while the other two are bored and behaving in a way that makes mom feel like people are judging her.
Bottom line: it made the morning kind of miserable for everyone, especially the mom with the two bored kiddos. So, as a child care provider who is trained to prevent behavior issues ahead of time, here’s my two cents (or 20 since I tend to ramble).
1) set the expectations before your arrival. Just make it very clear to the children what they are to expect for the outing and how you would like them to conduct themselves.
2) be prepared. Have each child pack a small bag of things to do. This can include a frisbee, coloring book, or deck of cards. Even a pair of binoculars will provide engagement. Remind them that the bag is theirs to carry and keep track of. This builds a sense of ownership, responsibility and pride. (And don’t forget snacks!)
3) include the siblings in the athlete’s activity in some way. Encourage the siblings to make a banner to cheer on their athlete. Give them jobs like gathering a water bottle or cleats. Remind them why you’re there, and engage their interest: “did you see how she kicked the ball?” Or “look how fast he’s running!”
4) give them a little freedom. There are many other families at these games, and plenty of other bored siblings. Set some limits, but let them go play together on an empty field when possible. Just situate yourself so your kids are in your sight line, and let them roll around in the grass with other kids.
I hope this helps!