“I win!” shouts my 4 year-old son as he jumps around, pumping his little fists. He then proceeds to pull his shirt off and run laps around the living room, slapping his belly. It is quite the spectacle. Before you go thinking that I’ve raised my son to be a terrible winner, I may have told him the shirtless celebration was a rule of winning foosball. I’ll correct that… one day.
Last Christmas I received a table top foosball set as a gift. I thought it was great, but I didn’t have time to play it. And I didn’t have anyone to play with me as my son was too little and my wife would just give me the look. You know the one. The one that says, “I’m not playing foosball.” But recently my son found the box and now we play two to three games a day.
I will admit that I love me some foosball and spending time with my son, but the games are much more than that. It’s an opportunity to grow and learn. I am always a gracious “loser” and we shake hands at the end of each game. I don’t play up to my former college elite skill level so he can win. But he does lose too and that is part of the game play learning experience. He experiences winning and losing and the emotions that come with it.
My son has gotten very good at the game and I am genuinely happy when he scores. I encourage and praise him when he makes a goal or stops me stone cold with his goalie. But the best thing is, he also complements my play. And despite the fact that we are on separate teams, he encourages me. I hoped this sportsmanship would extend past foosball and it has.
One a recent family trip to the beach our family indulged another one of my favorite activities, putt-putt golf. (That’s miniature golf for you high society people.) It was his first time playing so I helped him at every hole. He (and I) would go first. I’d help him make some shots, but others I’d let him figure out on his own. He was always super excited to get the ball in the cup. When he was done, he’d patiently wait and watch the rest of us. As we played, he shouted words of encouragement to everyone else. Foosball was paying off.
Structured game play is important to children. Far too often we turn our kids loose to play with their toys on their own. While this style of play stimulates creativity, structured games have their benefits. Here are a few benefits I have seen since we’ve started playing:
- Improved eye/hand coordination
- Improves his mood
- Reinforces our parent/child bond
- A great introduction to sports
- Learns sports nomenclature
- Boosts his self esteem
- Learns mad foosball skills to impress the ladies
I encourage you to find a game that you can play with your kids. I never thought foosball would be such a great opportunity to teach my kid valuable lessons, but it has. I hope you find a structured, shared activity for you and your kids. For more on the joy of foosball, check out FooseballZone.com.