Say Thank You
I love the month of May. Days get longer. Weather gets warmer. Nature awakens. The soccer season also begins and this blog awakens from its own 8-month hibernation. And so here we go again with a third season of Technical Ramblings, delivered to you on Fridays to give you something else to look forward to besides the weekend.
So, I can express my feelings for May in another way — using gratitude. I love May. I am grateful for longer days, warmer weather and the blooming of spring. I really am lucky to have the opportunity to see yet another May and to experience it here on the Island.
Now that act wasn’t very difficult to do nor was it time consuming. It took mere seconds to pause and to be thankful for something in my life. This is an act, when repeated consistently enough, has emotional, social, personality, career and health benefits.
We adults are extremely capable of expressing our gratitude if only we take the time to do so. How about our kids?
I am certain children can be genuinely grateful. I just don’t think that in general they are genuinely grateful. That opinion is drawn from my own context which is seeing the children of our community in the soccer programs that I run for the Club throughout the year. They come and they go but rarely do they express their gratitude for what they have received.
My own kids are exposed to a small education in gratitude. I do what I can to bring it up here or there when a teachable moment arises. Most times it’s part of the last thing they hear me say before they go to a sports game or practice: “Have fun, work hard and thank your coaches.”
This winter, I started building in a gratitude component at the end of our Club’s indoor sessions. I would ask the players what they were grateful for. With the younger kids it was just a general “What are you grateful for?” With the older kids I’d ask them what they were grateful for during the session or who in the session they were grateful for. The latter gave them the chance to praise teammates which then provided the added bonus of raising self-esteem. I would always try to end with “And how do we show our gratitude to our coaches?” That call then generated the expected response: “thank you!”
Because like most of you, I’m sure you can relate to all the times you have had to say to a child: “What do you say?” when you or someone else has done something for them. They do not naturally gush with gratitude. But there were some kids in those indoor sessions that would say thank you before they were asked to do so. Maybe they’d actually started to appreciate their soccer session and the coaches that were delivering them? More likely they were just becoming automated with the habit. And maybe one day that automation will lead to some rumination about why they are saying ‘thank you.’
I’m going to continue to build gratitude into the programs I work with this summer season. And as the Club Technical Director I have been asking other coaches in other programs to consider how they can do the same. It would be fantastic to have a soccer club known for its great players but even better to be associated with a club that helps build good people.
Here’s an expression of gratitude I got just yesterday: “Thanks so much for all you do, the kids love soccer.” One sentence. A few seconds to write. Nested into an email whose main topic was something else.
There are many people working behind the scenes to make your child’s soccer program a quality experience this season. Make the time and take the time to show gratitude. Take the time to help children learn to be grateful. Say thank you to the coaches (and the managers, and the volunteers and…)