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Children learn from what they see

By Staff | Jan 24, 2014

It seems a fairly simple statement to make that children learn from what they see. Why then, don’t adults take that to heart and think about their actions and how they are seen through the eyes of young people?

I had the opportunity to watch a couple of middle school basketball games at Shepherdstown Middle School last week where I was dismayed by the actions of a few “adults” in the stands. Keep in mind that this was girl’s basketball for kids ages 10-13 maybe. It is, or should be, a learning experience for them to play middle school ball.

Yet, there was one parent (or spectator) who stood up screaming at an action on the court who refused to be silenced by the referee, who refused to leave when asked by that referee and by the school principal. (The fact that the school authority allowed him to stay is something for another day.) That adult, and I use the term loosely, showed lack of judgment, lack of respect for all in that gym and portrayed very bad behavior in the eyes of these young players.

Add to that another adult who consistently beat out a drum beat on the bleachers whenever the opposing team was at the foul line, even while the players, cheerleaders and everyone else in the gym was quiet, and you have another example of poor adult behavior. Even at high school and college games, the opposing team quiets while someone is at the foul line. It’s just good sportsmanship.

With these types of behavior being the norm at middle school games, what else can we imagine these children see as a daily lesson in behavior? And then we question the behaviors of our youth?

Keep in mind that even though you don’t know that you serve as a role model, actions you take are emulated by the young people who cross your path.

While we are all guilty of reaching frustration levels, we need to remember where we are and reign in the actions that teach others how to react. Remember that eyes are on you as your own children watch what you do, but also as others watch. If you can’t control outbursts that you would find offensive in others, don’t put yourself in the position of facing such a personal outburst.

And remember, those children will act out what they see. It was evident at that game last week that a couple of the players at least felt that was exactly how they should act. Taunts against other players, talking back to the referee, slamming the ball down when having a foul called those actions have been made acceptable by the example set by adults. They are not acceptable. Instead, players, young people, should know to respect adults, authority figures, sports officials even if they don’t like the call.