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Raising Gentlle children and sports

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I have a committment to raising my son (18 months) with the values of nonagression and nonviolence.. Dh agrees with these principals and we are committed to gentle discipline and teaching this..

However, DH is also a huge sports fan and we attend a local universitites basketball, football and volleyball games. Dh also watches sports on the weekends (the rest of the time the TV is generally off). I am concerned that the exposure may confuse him as he is watching (more worried about in person) contact sports and doesn't have the ability to know the difference. It hasn't become a problem yet, but just wondering if anyone has any pointers for raising gentle children with an appreciation for althetiics?
post #2 of 13

I don't know if what we do would or would not apply to you, it could in time.


We are the same anti-aggression/violence and it does reflect in what we like so we really don't have the exact issue you do- ex. my DH hates American Football- it goes against what we believe so it's not on TV nor would be go to see it.


We are also very anti-competition (organized team sports) and greatly favor non-organized, non-competitive sports and solo sports.

My DH made up his mind prior to our DS birth (years!! prior) that there would be no organized team sports and his adamants has only grown since we had our DS (soon to be 5). We have seen families that are not like us and frankly we don't like how the kids turn out. 


In our state (PA) with Penn State stuff this has really hit home to many and I know some have drastically changed their prospective and this is applies to allowing participation for their children- to many it was a wake up call on many fronts (team favoritism/worship, participation, etc and YES for some a deep reflection into the the whole aggression as well) but there are some it didn't do a thing to. Personally we know one die-heart that no longer is and she did a drastic turn around regarding her DS playing based on the violence involved.


I do feel that you are sending a mixed message if you watch such sports as American football (and numerous others) and you don't push, shove, hit, punch, etc., your child. How some can explain it away I will never know- I (we) don't like it so it's easy for us to explain what turns us off about it and how we view it as wrong on many levels.


Sorry I really can't advise you as you are look for- to me it's all the way or you are really not committed if you make exceptions and those exceptions are for non-important meaning-IMO-a sporting competition (EX. not fighting someone off that is attacking you in a dark alley)....at that.


Unless your definition (aggression, violence, etc) is not what the words really mean I don't know how to justify it but that is me.


Some people do change and as their children age, they realize hey I don't want the air kicked out of my kid and putting him in a helmet to run at another kid is just not normal.


All the so called values that many claim come from "sports" can also come in other forms and without beating each other up to learn them.

post #3 of 13
I think you totally can raise him to love sports and not be violent. I very nonviolent, attachment-oriented and I used to play ice hockey and probably will again, once he's 3 and old enough to try it. Nothing cuter than a bunch of three-year olds skating around on their ankles, chasing the puck in a pack, no one playing their position! (I just hope that the other parents don't imagine that kids' hockey is a blood sport. It's like soccer, which we'll also expose him to--only faster. No checking or fighting is allowed in hockey for the under-14 set.)

Imagine he was a girl. You'd want him to have a healthy interest in sports and competition and wouldn't worry that watching or playing sports would turn a girl into a gladiator, right? Same is true of organized sport for boys. (Personally I'm opposed to him playing American football bc of hits to the head (these are probably as rare in kids' hockey as in kids' basketball), and bc to me it's about as interesting as watching paint dry, but I might not be able to control which sports he takes an interest in. Praying for soccer, basketball, or some other sport where hits to the head are not routine aspects of the game.)

There are kids who play thuggishly in any sport, and parents who pressure their boys into competitive sports because they think it'll make them tough or masculine. That's sad, and your son will definitely encounter them if he plays any competitive team sport. But you know what? He'll meet kids like that in kindergarten, too. It's not a reason to stay away from healthy and fun physical activities. A gentle kid raised with nonviolent values will know the difference between a contact sport and fighting. And he'll get some exercise.

It's true, he can get exercise in solo sports too, if he likes them, but competition, camaraderie and teamwork can all be benefits to team sports if he likes them. I wouldn't worry too much about him seeing contact sports. His dad can explain the strategy and tactics so your son knows they're not just randomly or selfishly hitting each other.
post #4 of 13
 I very nonviolent, attachment-oriented and I used to play ice hockey and probably will again, once he's 3 and old enough to try it. Nothing cuter than a bunch of three-year olds skating around on their ankles, chasing the puck in a pack, no one playing their position! (I just hope that the other parents don't imagine that kids' hockey is a blood sport. It's like soccer, which we'll also expose him to--only faster. No checking or fighting is allowed in hockey for the under-14 set.)



the point I was making is the "type" of sports - the game of hockey is not to tackle your opponent - not even close to American football, boxing, wrestling, etc but it can be extremely confusing for a young child to see how the game should be played vs professional games such as hockey that often do not get played without a violent confrontation


just for some other prospective girls are far more llighly to be injured with head confusions playing soccer vs other sport - http://rockcenter.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/05/09/11604307-concussion-crisis-growing-in-girls-soccer?lite


my point still is the extreme mixed message professional sports sends showing violence 

post #5 of 13
True: soccer head injuries are not because of violence, though. (My sister plays soccer--the aggression takes the form of kicking.) it's from heading the ball. Which I'm hoping they'll start to restrict in kids' soccer before our son is old enough to play ...

I think explaining the rules and pointing out unnecessary aggression ("Hey, that guy should *not* have punched the other player! That's not part of the game--it spoils the game" we're big parts of the conversations I used to have with my parents while watching sports.) But you're right, there's a wide gray area between competitive physical play and aggression. So I can understand your concern ...
post #6 of 13

IMO, there's a difference between roughhousing and being violent. My 4 year old and 2 year old like to roll around and "wrestle" each other. They both like it, and have fun at it. It's harmless fun. It's not the same as pushing someone or hitting someone to be mean. My kids know not to play rough if someone doesn't want to. I think it's good for kids to get their energy out, and normal for boys or girls to want to roll around and have fun as long as everyone is enjoying the game. I think kids know more than we think. They may watch football and see players tackling each other and knocking them down. That doesn't mean they're going to start tackling random people. With hockey, maybe you could say, they aren't supposed to fight. You could also point out that the players get a penalty when they do this. Kind of like a time out.

post #7 of 13
My son plays ice hockey at a high level and has since he was 6. In our state checking starts at 10ish. He has always understood the rules of the game vs how some play it vs standards of behavior off the ice. He has an older sister and you get brother. His language has always been cleaner than his sisters and he has never been any more violent than his siblings. He also plays lacrosse.
post #8 of 13

Yes, HUGE difference between violence and playing a game.  I am an avid softball player, have been playing for over 20yrs.  While not a 'contact sport', in my many years playing 2nd base I can't tell you how many injuries I've had from player intentionally sliding cleats-up into my leg rather than the base.  Some coaches even encoraged it and were subsequently suspended from the league.  The point is, I didn't turn around and do the same to them.  I didn't start a fight with them on the field, nor chase anyone down for intentionally hitting me with a pitch.  I'm not a violent person.  I LOVE competitive sports.  Without competition, where is the drive that makes us want to be better? To want to acheive more?  Competition isn't the enemy, and teaching kids to avoid it completely could do them more harm than good down the road when entering the job market.  It absolutely depends on the child and how the parents respond.  DD is 13 mos and whatever sport she chooses, we will fully support her in.  DH played hockey as a kid as well as football and soccer.  While I've never been a soccer fan, I really wouldn't mind if my daughter chose hockey or even football as her game of choice.  It's about learning to work as a team.  About putting the needs of others before your own.  Give your LO more credit that he will learn the difference between acceptable competiton and unacceptable violence bc of how you interact with him.

post #9 of 13
Without competition, where is the drive that makes us want to be better? To want to acheive more? 



ahhhhhh- from self NOT sports!


self driven to excel 


one does not need sports to do this irked.gif



the OP especially mentioned American football- you don't do non contact in that sport- you call it "tackling" when it really is hitting, so if you don't hit your kid why get your kicks watching others get hit? 

post #10 of 13
It seem clear that Dakotacakes accepts her husband taking their child to watch contact sports, so her definition of violence is not as capacious as serenbat's. She might decide to prohibit all participation in sports, as player or spectator, as serenbat recommends--but I doubt this, as her husband is a sports fan and is committed to nonviolence. Serenbat sees playing contact sports as violence and watching them as "getting your kicks from violence," but it sounds like Dakotacakes wants her kid to have an "appreciation for sports" while remaining gentle. So it seems she sees some value in sports and is wondering how to reconcile her other values with the reality that her kid will see violence and aggression in pro and college sports. (Or let's face it, there's a fair bit of aggression in club and kids' sports, too!)
post #11 of 13

My husband and I enjoy watching professional and college football and watch games regularly, so our kids do as well.  They don't have any trouble understanding that athletes do different things physically than we do, just as when we watch the Olympics and see gymnasts, they understand that we aren't doing flips either.  We also don't kick soccer balls or dribble basketballs in the house or when not appropriate.


My son is 7.5 and has been watching football his whole life.  He's the gentlest kid I know.  He doesn't like playing aggressive games with classmates.  He doesn't like watching violence in even Disney movies and will ask us to shut off a movie or show if it makes him uncomfortable.  Watching sports has not seemed to affect him at all.  I don't think that it's that hard for kids to differentiate as long as non-violent behavior is being modeled by caregivers.  We do comment when there is a fight or injury and how it's not ok.  He likes learning about penalties and what is acceptable within the sport and why.

post #12 of 13

I have a rough and tumble, heavy handed almost two year old.  That being said, he watches football and yells, "No, no, no, no, no!  Carefull!  Get hurt!"  when they tackle each other on tv.  I know he's young, but he's a very smart on, and I explain to him about how the football players wear special outfits to keep themselves and each other safe when they play football, so they don't get hurt like we do when we hit or knock someone down.  He's getting it.

post #13 of 13

My youngest plays a contact sport (field hockey). She's been playing for.... 7 years now. Is it aggressive? It can be. You can't stand there and wait for the ball to come to you and then gently hit it away. It requires exertion, effort, and yes - some aggression. It is not,however, a "violent" sport. Do some teams/individuals play dirty? Sure. Most, however, do not.


I have loved watching my daughter go from a kid who didn't know one end of the stick from the other, to a young woman who is committed to her team(s), her teammates, her sport, her body and remaining fit. A young woman who works hard to improve her skill on the field every day, and who uses the determination and dedication she's developed playing hockey in the rest of her life. She is extremely focused, being on a team has helped her become more organized, more determined in succeeding in her academics, etc. Being involved in sports - even contact sports - is not a BAD thing. It may not be for everyone, but it is not an inherently bad thing.


Has she gotten hurt? Yep. It happens. She has dealt with sprained ankles, shin splints, broken ribs, a hip injury, broken knuckles. And played through every injury. Because she loves it so much. Some kids NEED that level of activity and competition. Her brother, on the other hand? Could care less. 


ETA: She is also, off the field, a kind and gentle person. Good with animals, kids, and the elderly. Has spent time since coming home from school helping in the post-Sandy clean-up. Spent Christmas Eve handing out meals to those in need. Playing a contact sport has not taken away from her as a person. If anything, it has made her a better person.

Edited by mtiger - 12/25/12 at 7:00am
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