Many parents, fathers especially, dream of watching their kid growing up playing baseball and being in the major leagues someday. Others figure there’s a possibility that they might someday earn a scholarship through baseball and pay their own way through college. Still, most parents get their kids into sports, particularly baseball, so they can participate in team sports and learn important values, to keep them healthy and active, and to lessen the likelihood that they turn to drugs, commit crimes, or suffer from substance-abuse later on in their teen years and beyond. Whatever the motivation or reason to teach a child to play baseball, it is well worth the effort and it can create the most beautiful and lasting childhood memories for a child.
My motivation a few years ago came from the fact that my son walked up to me and said,”Daddy I want to learn how to play baseball.” I remember being thrilled and so happy for my kid to want to learn a team sport and get off the computer that he was so firmly attached to. I had always tried my best to encourage him throughout his young life to play baseball, basketball, or football and he never showed interest in sports.
As a former professional baseball player and Little League coach, I know a thing or two when it comes to teaching kids the fundamentals. Even if you don’t have any experience or are not particularly coordinated, you can teach your kid how to play baseball by teaching them the basics. After that, they are either going to love it or not! It’s up to them to take it as far as they want to go.
Before we dive into this quick course that anyone can use, here are the basic items you will need; A glove, at least five baseballs, a batting tee, a batting helmet, and a metal bat.
There are three basic areas where anyone without experience can teach their kids how to play baseball:
1. Teach kids how to catch the ball. This one takes a lot of patience and a lot of practice, especially for kids in the 4 to 10 year old range. You can start by buying them a glove using this size chart to make sure their glove is the right size. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a new glove. As a matter of fact you may be able to borrow a good glove or find a used one on Craigslist or the classifieds.
Start by tossing them a soft rubber ball to their glove hand side, away from their face and body, from just a few short feet away. At first, you want your child to catch the ball with his glove in front and to the side of his or her body with the glove turned palm up. Teach your child how to move the glove under the ball, then teach your kid how to close the glove as the ball strikes it in the pocket. Once your child masters this after a few days, you can teach them to reach above their head with their glove and you can toss the ball above their head. Next, you want to try some advanced techniques such as tossing the ball to one side for a while, then the other side, above their head, and at their feet so they have to stretch down to catch it.
Praise your kids for making catches and continue encouraging them. The worst thing you can do when you are trying to teach a child something is to criticize them for not doing what you told them to do. For example, you shouldn’t say something like, “Johnny, why are you turning the glove this way if I just got through telling you to turn it the other way?” Instead, use positive reinforcement by saying, “Wow, Janet, great catch, here’s another one. Aw, nice try, turn your glove this way when you are trying to catch it.”
2. Teach your kid how to throw a baseball. Instead of having them stand up and throw the ball, you will have them get on their knee and place their lead foot forward. So, for example, a right-hander will put his or her right knee down and his left leg bent forward towards the intended target and a lefthander will have the left knee down and the right leg bent forward. See the example image.
From this position, you can tell your youngster to start with the ball in the glove, then to put his or her arm back, and finally, to throw the ball forward. To make this exercise easier, call out the positions as such; glove, back, throw! As an alternative that also works well, you can say, “glove, back, up, and throw.” This adds an extra step where you child can bring the ball back directly behind him or her before putting the arm up and throwing. Also, to make this easy, you can place a bucket of baseballs right next to your child so he or she can reach in and practice their throw over and over.
The reason this works so well to teach not only proper form but arm strength as well is because your kid will be locked in and not worried about foot placement just yet. Once he or she has mastered this throwing form, it’s time to have them stand up so they can learn how to throw by stepping forward with their free foot. For righties, they will step with their left foot as they throw and vice versa. Pay attention to their form as they throw the ball. Are they cocking their arm back before they throw it or are they keeping their arm too close to their torso? Ideally, you want your child to throw the ball with as much natural power as possible. If you imitate the image used above, you should have no problem drastically improving in a relatively short amount of time.
3. Teach your kid how to hit a baseball. I left the one kids have the most fun with for last, intentionally! You see, for some kids, all they want to do is practice batting and they can easily tire out and lose interest in learning how to catch and throw.
A batting tee is essential if you want to teach your child proper batting form. Even Major League ballplayers sometimes use batting tees when they are working on proper swing form!
You can get a fairly good and inexpensive batting tee at Toys R Us for under $15.00 and it is well worth it and probably the most important piece of equipment you will buy for your child.
Have your kid stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart. The feet should be facing the batting tee as seen in the image below. The front foot should be parallel to the tube with the baseball on top of it.
Your child should grip the bat as shown above with no separation between hands. When he or she is ready to take a swing, the bat should be cocked back and loaded and as the swing begins, the front foot should make a small step (2 to 6 inches) as the arms extend with the barrel of the bat striking the baseball as the wrists turn over. The idea is to keep the eyes on the ball and strike the ball just as the wrists are breaking and following through. There will also be a natural shift in the legs. When the bat is cocked back, the weight will shift slightly to the rear leg and body, and when the swing starts, there will be a torque action in the body as the hips slightly rotate when the hitter steps forward.
There are many different ways Major League baseball players take swings due to many different factors having to do with different theories and natural abilities. However, by using the above basics, you will allow your child to develop or strengthen his or her natural swing. See you in the Big Leagues!
I look around at my co-workers and can’t help but notice how many of them absolutely adore their children but they readily admit how they continue to sacrifice time spent with them for the chance at making a little more money while at work. I feel like I have a responsibility to tell them how this approach has worked out for me over the last few years and how I have changed this approach to make my life as well as my children’s lives much more fulfilling than ever.
My first daughter, who is now 29 years old, was the product of a failed marriage that lasted two years. As an every-other-weekend father, I barely had enough time to bond with my child during her formative years. To make matters worse, her mother moved two thousand miles away with her with my consent so she could pursue her dream career in the armed forces. It was contingent on the promise of her returning within 4 years and I gave her my full blessing, trying not to interfere with her chance to make something of herself after the divorce so she could provide for my child. Even though she returned four years later as promised, this is where the trouble started!
I never gave myself a chance to really bond with my first child because I hardly ever saw her for a few years and during the times we did get together, it was over in a flash. My first child has since grown and she did so without a father heavily influencing her life. I must say, it shows!
Back then, I didn’t know how bonding with your child could prove to be the biggest advantage when it came to helping a child grow up to be everything they could be. My daughter carries much resentment for my absence as a father to this day. Worse yet, as the product of a broken home, I have no problem saying the truth; she didn’t turn out to be the person I hoped she would be for her own sake. Yes, she’s a loving and beautiful person! however, she is also the laziest person I know and she has landed in county jail twice for felonious offenses, one of which she is still facing.
How did this happen? Why does this occur to so many families? A parent’s usual worst fear is that their child will either die or turn out rotten. My 29 year old daughter is neither. But something went wrong along the way and unlike most scenarios, I can definitely put my finger on this one. I know exactly what happened and I can’t say I didn’t see it coming.
I take full responsibility for the decisions I made which had a direct impact on my daughter’s life. What if I would have fought for her to stay in my state all those years ago? What if I had been more successful at my career so that I could take more frequent trips to see her? So many questions still run through my head to this day and it’s easy to see how our family could have had a much better chance at avoiding this type of situation with my daughter altogether, if I had done things differently. We all live and learn, I guess. But at what expense?
I believe I have the answer if you want to have the best chance at raising a child who can flourish and always stay close to you. Bonding with your children is the way to go!
Bond With Your Child and Watch Them Flourish
Here’s how to avoid the majority of behavioral problems children face today; be a parent who is unafraid to provide structure in the household and bond with your children. It’s as simple as that!
There is no parenting manual that can teach you step by step but folks, it really is an easy process. If you are there consistently there for your children and you actually take the time to participate with them in daily activities, they will bond and become close to you in mind and spirit. When you come home from work every day, instead of focusing on how tired you are and thinking only about yourself and your favorite TV show as you plop yourself down on the couch, go hang out with your kids. Ask them how their day was and give them a daily hug and kiss while telling them how much you love them.
Include them in most everything you do, even if it means asking them if they want to come with you while you pick up a few extra groceries. Heck, occasionally treat them to a little ice cream at Cold Stone or TCBY or buy them a toy at Toys R Us without going so far as to spoil them completely.
Pass up the chance to work overtime if you really don’t need it to make your rent payment or to pay your electric bill! How much more money are you going to really make and why is it that the more money we make, the more we spend, anyway? What is more important to you?
Take a look….no, I mean really look into your children’s eyes tonight before they go to bed and ask yourself if you want those kids to have a fulfilling life and to love and respect you forever, the way you love and cherish them. Bonding with your children will become natural when you place everything in perspective.
Most experts can’t harp enough on how parents need to be open and honest with their teenagers about the dangers of drugs and the effects of drinking and driving. Research shows parents who are open and honest with their teens about drugs and alcohol are giving them a tremendous advantage to the tune of a 60% less likelihood that they will use any illicit substances during their formative years.
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Surprising Research Results
According to MADD, when they analyzed FBI data concerning underage alcohol abuse, they found only 32% of traffic deaths for teens are alcohol-related. The other causes of death involving teens and alcohol have to do with homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and a few other reasons. Another interesting statistic is that 1/4 of all children in the U.S. aged 12-20 drink alcohol at least once a month. I would say that’s completely outta’ control!
What does this mean for parents? They should definitely concern themselves with putting forth a concerted effort to teach their children about what’s out there so they don’t get caught by surprise and make bad decisions in the face of peer pressure. Just think about how many kids who have no clue, have been thrust into a situation where another youngster shoves an alcoholic drink in their face in front of all their friends and tells them to drink. This plays out every single day to thousands of young people across the globe and if they are not ready to react the smart way during that ‘moment of truth’ they are more likely to try alcohol or drugs.
When you talk to your child about the dangers of teenage drinking and driving in a caring and thoughtful manner without going overboard and being obsessive about it you will be able to reach them and make an impact in their lives. Don’t lie to them and tell them alcohol is terrible for them when they know darn well about how two glasses of wine a night actually benefits their health because they read about it on the Internet! Be honest and open but don’t emphasize the fact that you ‘really tied a few on’ and got hammered in your day because this type of message sends them an invitation to experiment and do what you did. At the same time, you should know their friends and peers are a bigger influence on them than you are, so it’s imperative that you place an emphasis on knowing whom your child is hanging out with.
A huge mistake parents make is to allow their children to drink alcohol at home because they would rather their kids do it in their presence than to hide it and drink with their friends. There is no reason for a parent to cave in and allow an underaged kid to drink alcohol (it’s illegal for a reason) at home because they continually pester and beg them to let them do it. Once parents do allow it, they should know they are helping to set the wheels in motion for a child to possibly become a problem drinker; kids who drink in their teens have much higher alcoholism rates than those who don’t, their academics suffer, and girls are far more likely to become pregnant in their teenage years.
Last night I was a little tired and my 8 year old son kept begging me for a bedtime story until I caved in and told him the tale of a guy named ‘Harry Mann.’
I almost always make up these stories for my kids as I go along because sometimes, the wackiest stories are the best. I try to fill up the tall tales with plenty of things they can visualize and almost always, I hit the nail on the head and my kids go to sleep satisfied. I have no idea what there is in a bedtime story that puts a kid in La La Land almost immediately after they hear it, but it works.
What I do know is this; spending this time at night with my kids shows them how important they are to me and how much I cherish them. I know it also stimulates their brain into visualizing all the scenarios I paint for them with just a few words and their vocabularies are able to expand exponentially. These stories also give me a chance to teach them values as I always try to include a moral to the story.
Here’s the goofy story about “Harry Mann” I made up last night:
Harry Mann was hard-working man with two kids and a wife and he had one feature about him that no one could ignore; he was really hairy! He had long hair, hair in his nose, his ears, his chest, his back, his arms and hands, his legs, and even his feet. Some people believed he had hair coming out of his mouth that he would shave off every day. Harry would look in the mirror every day and say to himself, “I can’t help the way I look. Why are people so mean sometimes?”
One day, because Harry had grown sick and tired of people remarking and making fun of him being hairy, and while his wife was at work and his kids were at school, he cut off all his hair from head to toe. It took him 5 hours!
Immediately after, Harry went to the supermarket and tried to buy some groceries. As he passed through the frozen foods section, he said hello to his friend Bob, who worked there. “Hi Bob,” said Harry. Bob looked at Harry and said, “Do I know you?” Harry said, “It’s me, Bob….Harry. Harry Mann.” “I know Harry and you sir, are not him!” quipped Bob as he shook his head and walked away.
Harry tried saying hello to a few other friends and acquaintances and all of them simply ignored him. Harry became a little frustrated and figured he would simply go pay for his items and get out of the supermarket before he felt even more uncomfortable.
As the cashier began ringing up all of his items, he noticed he had forgotten his wallet with his cash, checks, and ATM card but remembered he had a credit card in the glove compartment of his car. He politely excused himself and proceeded to his car to get it. When he returned, there were 6 angry customers waiting behind him and he gave the credit card to the cashier. The cashier looked at the credit card and asked Harry for some identification. After all, it was a pretty hefty amount he was about to pay; $257.89!
Harry told the cashier he had forgotten his wallet and the cashier politely informed all the other shoppers that her lane was closed and to please proceed to the next one. A few moments later, the store manager arrived with a police officer and Harry said to the manager, “Jeff, it’s me.” “Who are you? I have never seen this guy and I don’t know who he is,” said the store manager to the police officer.
Harry said, “But, but.” “Okay, that’s enough there big guy,” said the cop, “You’re coming with me.” Harry found himself in handcuffs in the back of a patrol car. He couldn’t believe it.
While at the police station, Harry begged the police detectives to call his wife. They did and she came down to the station. Harry’s wife entered the room and said she didn’t recognize this hairless man and she whipped herself around and thanked the detectives for wasting her time. “That’s not my Harry, my Harry has hair coming out of his eyeballs,” she said. “But Barbara, it’s me” pleaded Harry, as she disappeared down the hall saying, “Yeah, right, mister.”
Harry pleaded with the detectives to call his mother and they did.When Harry’s mother arrived, Harry asked, “Mom, will you please tell them who I am?” She grabbed his face with her hairy hand and said, “My Harry has so much hair on his face he looks like a Sasquatch.” Harry’s mom pulled his shirt up and said, “My Harry has so much hair I can’t tell where his neck starts and his belly button ends.” Harry was sweating bullets and becoming more nervous. His mother grabbed his ear, pulled it, and said, “My Harry has so much hair in his ears he flips it over and covers his chin with it to make it look like he has a beard.”
Just then, Harry’s mother turned away and the detectives asked, “So this is not your son, is it Ma’m?” while Harry felt a lump in his throat.
As she started to disappear in the hallway, she shouted back, “Oh, that’s my Harry alright, I just can’t believe what he’s done to his body. He was perfect the way he was before he removed all his hair!”
The detectives couldn’t stop laughing and released Harry to his mother. Later that night Harry apologized to his mother and his wife and kids.
The moral of the story is; be yourself, love yourself for who you are, and don’t try to be someone you are not!
And they all lived happily ever after!
You may or may not know that parents who talk to their children about the dangers of using drugs give their children a much better chance to say no when they are faced with peer pressure. In fact, cutting loose on the drug talk and telling it like it is will place your child where he or she is at least 50% less likely to experiment with illicit substances.
So, how and when do you begin talking to them about this difficult subject? You can take a lesson from the D.A.R.E. program which is a drug abuse awareness presentation used by police departments across the nation. They start teaching kids about drug dangers starting in the 5th grade. This is logical because it prepares 11 year-old children for their middle school experience the following year, where many unsuspecting kids get suckered into peer pressure and start using drugs.
Start by asking them if they know anything about the dangers of drugs. Sometimes, you’d be surprised at how well-versed they actually are on the subject! Tell them it’s important for them to be aware of drug activity occurring in their school as well as in the neighborhood and explain to them why people resort to using them.
Explain how addictive drugs can be and how it can easily ruin someone’s life forever. Give examples of people you know of whom have used illicit drugs and the consequences for their actions whether it be going to prison, becoming an addict, losing their job, hurting their loved ones, etc. The point is to be truthful and direct so they can see and almost feel the impact it would have on their lives as well a their family members and friends.
Tell them they need to be prepared for possible peer pressure and express how comforting it is to know you are certain they will make good decisions when the moment of truth arrives in the form of someone offering them drugs. A child needs reassurance as well as trust and support from a parent; they want to feel mature enough where they can do the thinking for themselves.
Make your children understand how everything they do now will shape their future down the road. If they arrested for a felony drug possession, even though in many states they can expunge their criminal record by the age of 18-19, there is a possibility that the blemish will stay on their record throughout their lives!
Explain to them what types of drugs are floating around in schools and in neighborhoods so they don’t get caught by surprise, causing them to make a bad decision. This one’s a touchy subject because many parents feel if you demonstrate what kinds of drugs there are out there, it will give their children ideas and potentially be detrimental to them. However, if your child is educated on what to avoid, you are giving your kid the best chance to stay clean and not fall into the drug trap.
The prevalence of drugs in schools hasn’t changed much over the last 50 years. There is arguably not even one high school in America with a student enrollment of over 500 that doesn’t have at least a few kids taking drugs throughout the school year. It’s no surprise and it really shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody. But it should give many of us parents a serious wake up call!
In the 1960’s, drug use was quickly becoming part of popular culture and the use of marijuana was starting to pick up steam in schools in the United States. Fast forward to today, and students are now being exposed to and taking more drugs than ever as a whole.
Statistics vary but it is safe to say now in the U.S., roughly 35% of high school seniors will have tried at least one illicit drug and approximately 5-6% will be regular or semi-regular pot smokers.
How does this happen?
The truth is; you can be the best parent in the world, instilling the greatest of morals and values in your children and sometimes that’s not enough to keep kids away from drugs. They are inevitably going to make their own choices and you can’t be at their side 24/7.
One thing you can do that’s proven to be extremely effective in preventing your children from doing drugs is to talk about the subject with them, openly. Studies show children who talk to their parents about the dangers of drugs are over 50% less likely to experiment with illicit drugs. So, for those of you who think it’s taboo to talk about drugs at home you should know you may be doing much more harm than good for your child.
Prepare your Kids For Peer Pressure
They need to know the truth so it doesn’t catch them by surprise and subject them to possibly making a bad decision. If they are prepared to face difficult situations involving peer pressure, they will stand a much better chance to make good decisions and avoid getting themselves in a hole.
Many parents are afraid if they don’t give their adolescents enough space, their relationships with their kids will suffer. Some of these parents are from the school of thought that kids should make their own mistakes and learn from them. This is true for many things in life but not when it comes to drugs!
As a parent, you should always know where your kid is and who he or she hangs out with. You can do this easily and without intruding in their lives by communicating with them and questioning them occasionally if the situation calls for it. Don’t simply assume everything’s always alright because sometimes, it just isn’t. There are thousands of parents in the world right now who don’t even have a clue that their child is on the verge of substance abuse or already abusing drugs whether it’s cocaine, heroin, marijuana, prescription pills (not prescribed to them), or any other illicit substance.
You can tilt your children’s odds in their favor by teaching them about dangers of drugs! Just don’t make it sound like you’re preaching and do your best to ‘keep it real’.