Family Life is like a Team Sport

Teamwork is crucial to a happy and healthy family life! Here you will find out why teamwork in family life is so important and how you can create a strong family team.

Creating strong family teams is crucial to a happy and healthy family life. And the family team is the best place for your kids to learn about teamwork!

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

I remember back in school when we did group projects, I would sit and pray that I just wouldn’t be put in a group with THAT kid, or you would desperately hope to be put on the same team as my best friend! It was nerve wrecking, waiting for the teacher to divide everyone up.

Then the other day it hit me, I didn’t get to pick my kids! I didn’t get to pick the winning team as I thought it would be! And thank goodness I didn’t because I think our family unit is wonderfully perfect in all of our imperfections.

Family is such an incredibly interesting, unique and beautiful artwork if you think about it. It’s these random people put together with all sorts of unique characteristics, likes, dislikes and personality traits that weave together into a beautiful little team.

It doesn’t matter how you spin it, family life is a team sport and we can either learn how to be a great team who works well together, or we could jut be some random individuals who live together.

The fact that you’re here tells me you choose the first option! So…

Let’s look at how Teamwork translates in Family Life:

The definition of a Team, is a group of people working towards the same goal or mission.

Those goals and missions could be anything. Maybe it is saving up for a great summer holiday, having a neat and tidy house or making sure the family stays active over the weekends.

The key is, we are all working towards the same thing. Together.

Family life is a child’s first exposure to team work and it’s where we can lay the foundations of the type of team player we want our kids to become one day. Do we teach our kids to participate in clearing the dishes and tidying up after supper like a good team player would, or do we allow them to lie on the couch while mom and dad slave away in the kitchen?

When we show our kids that they are PART of the team and they need to carry their own load to make work lighter for everyone, it gives them the opportunity to take responsibility not just for tasks, but for the family, and even though they might complain about it at the beginning, in the end it helps them feel like a valued member of the family.

What do the best teams do?

In the book Smarter, Faster, Better, John Duhigg concludes from his incredible study of teamwork, that the best teams do 3 things.

  1. Great teams create an environment where everyone feels valued.
  2. These teams also create a safe space where members are allowed to try and fail.
  3. They give each member equal time to share and give input into the team.

I want to go one step further and add a fourth. It is that team members cheer each other on. Not only do we support each other, but we encourage and lift each other up when the going gets tough.

So by now I’m sure we’re all convinced that it is crucial to teach our kids about teamwork at home. But the big question is HOW? How do we take all those individual members that are so different and so unique and help them to become a great Team?

How do we create a strong family team?

Model being a good Team Player:

Kids don’t do what you tell them to do, kids do what they see you do! This is a hard truth for parents to be reminded of, but the more we model the behaviour we want to see in our kids, the more likely they are to copy you. That is until they turn into teenagers 😉

Divide Responsibilities

I absolutely believe that children should do some chores around the house. Kids should absolutely pick up their own toys, put their washing in the laundry basket, unpack their school bags and even make their beds. Kids need to learn what it means to take one for the team and do their part so the team can succeed.

When you divide responsibilities, make sure the expectations are clear. Every member of the family should understand what their responsibilities are. Kids as young as 1 or 2 years old can help clear toys away, put their clothes in the laundry basket or pass mom the carrot to cut for supper. Involve your kids in chores as early as possible.

Conflict Resolution

Unfortunately conflict is a part of life. Whether there is bickering on who gets the last piece of chicken or what movie should be watched or which colour towels should be bought, there will always be something to disagree about in families.

In a strong team, members are encouraged to deal with conflict in a respectful way. Teach your kids how to deal with situations where they can’t have their way or when they need to accept that someone else has a differing opinion to his or her own.

Remember to me it might be a 6, but to the person on the opposite side of the table, it’s a 9.

Appreciate each other

Remember that each member of the family contributes to the strength of the team. In a team we balance each other out. Where one person is weaker the others can be stronger and build each other up.

We need to teach our kids to celebrate the differences we have and show our appreciation for each other. When each member of the team feels valued, they will be more likely to go the extra mile for the team.

Talk about Family Values

Family Values, are words you use to describe the core beliefs your family has. Talk about the things you as a family feel are important and core to who you are as a family. Give your children the chance to also add their own values. Parents often value honesty, but for kids, Fun or Quality Family Time might rank higher on the list.

Here are some examples of good family values:
* Integrity
* Honesty
* Kindness
* Gratitude
* Fun

Spend some time putting together your own family values that you can build a strong team on.

Practical ideas for becoming a strong Family Team:

  • Play cooperative board games. These are games where everyone plays together and works towards the same goal. Either the whole team wins, or the whole team loses.
  • Give kids opportunities to work together on household projects. Build a model together or renovate the storage room together.
  • Do chores as a team. Get everyone involved on Saturday and do your chores together.
  • Volunteer together. There are many places like soup kitchens or children’s homes where you can volunteer as a family.
  • Learn a new skill together. Maybe the family can start learning a new language together or take cooking lessons together.
  • Encourage debating. Pick an interesting topics and allow everyone to voice their opinions. Help your kids understand that everyone is allowed to have their own opinion even if it’s different than their own.
  • Encourage sharing from a young age. This is a foundational skill to teamwork!
  • Do a Team building obstacle courses together and make sure to leave no man behind. Build a simple obstacle course in the backyard or in the house where you need to jump over pillow, crawl under chairs and walk a ‘tightrope’. Make sure everyone works as a team to get everyone across.

When a Family starts functioning like a team, we reap so many benefits! We create stronger connections between the members, we lighten the load for everybody and we teach our kids skills they will use for the rest of their lives.

Are you raising strong individuals or are you creating a team that’ll grow and thrive TOGETHER ?

Are you interested in teaching your kids to set goals they can actually achieve? Check out THIS blog post on Goal Setting for Kids

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