What 5 Year Olds Have Taught Me About Relationships

connecting in relationshipsImagine twelve 5 and some 6 year old children in one place at one time seeking their own attention but yet you needing their attention. Michelle Duggar and school teachers would be laughing as some have double that (or almost) but yet for a single parent of just one it is an eye opener. This is what I have taken on in coaching my son’s under 6 coed soccer team consisting of 7 boys and 5 girls.  Each child has their own personality, eagerness but yet apprehensiveness wondering if they are going to be accepted or in their lives, “good enough” to be part of the “good kid crowd” that gets cheered for and not the “oh, it is ok, next time.”  As a child,  I was in the middle so attention seeking was not really a priority as I had my friends and really did my thing (hoping parents never really noticed as a teenager) but yet being in the middle of two exceptional sisters who did their thing better was not always easy. I mean, when in high school, how do you garner any attention when one of your sisters is named the best cheerleader of the entire state?  While I was pretty bored during the ALL DAY competition, and happy to hear that award ceremony was coming to an end, I was even more frustrated hearing her name. But then, in a split second, as I watched her reaction of never really hearing her name but being pushed by teammates and jumping up with her skinny frog like legs, learned how to be happier for others than you will ever be for yourself and that the attention never really mattered. That. Moment. I saw a new connection with her that I had never seen before, despite having been so close earlier in life and always sharing a room.

So what does this to do with twelve 5/6 year olds and connecting?  For some not much but for those that continue on,  A LOT.

Children learn at their own pace and some are just better at certain things than others. It is a reality and no matter how hard you can practice some do not have the same skill levels as others.  As a coach this is a challenge as the players that are not as good loose focus quickly as the players that are better always get more attention –  it is a known fact. But with me, I wanted to be different. I wanted to be the best coach and make every child feel as if they were contributing to the team. But how?  How was I going to reach 12 kids and not only teach them the fundamentals of the game but also ensure that they are all feeling important? I had never coached a team and really was not sure I had what it takes to even be a coach.  I mean, I know how to reach and teach my son but 11 other children – whose parents all have a say?  What have I done went through my mind when I received the roster and attended the coaches meeting which was filled predominately with men.  Then, realizing that this was real and that 12 children were relying upon me,  I started to look at this differently. Find out something unique about each child and have that be our special thing so we can connect.  While we are a team of 12, but  for me as a coach it is a team that consists of 1 and I have 12 number 1’s. In my business life, I treat each client is if they are the only client but collectively are a part of the team/agency and keep it running. It seemed strange to think of coaching soccer as a business however, it is what I know and where my comfort zone is, so it was easier for me to to go there.

As a small business owner, you wear a lot hats and building relationships with people that provide services that help your business run better is becoming more and more necessary.  We do business with people we like and trust, we are friends with people who share similar interests.  In building these offline and online community relationships whether it be business or for personal, there is sort of a bond – a connection that exists between the people. This connection is unique to that relationship and is what grows within the relationship and ultimately maintains it.

Connections in Relationships

Connecting to build relationships is how I went about coaching. Now, I did know 4 of the children, 1 being my own and 3 being his friends which whom he had played with for 2 seasons so, I knew what they liked and how to reach them already. The rest were like a new client where I had to take the time to learn as much as I could about them and see where we could connect. For some it was easy as the one little boy wears a headband and we joke about it as it is cool, one of the girls is a hugger. She likes a hug before and after practices and games. That is where she and I connect and being a hugger, I really had no problem with that. One of the boys needs to have me right next to him when we are doing drills at  practice and then loves to play with my hair when we are coming to together at the end of the practice. Each of these children and I have connected in a way that is special and unique to us.  The connection makes them feel extremely important to the team.  Some will score many goals and some possibly will not score a goal at all but they all are treated as if they are contributing and helping us to win. Oh yeah, for my son, being able to call me by my first name is where he and I connect on the soccer field as at 5 that is a big deal!

Connecting with people whether they be 5 or 85 is what continues to build relationships and helps us grow within ourselves. Something that is important to us always gets our attention. Knowing something about someone and asking about it whether that be a new puppy, bringing in special cookies for the person allergic to chocolate or making sure that they had their morning fix of coffee lets them know that you care.  Many times it is the little things that make the big things.

What about you – how have you connected with people to build relationships?  Does this really exist in business?

photo credit: peter denton

  • Hey Suzanne,
    Great way to draw a correlation. That is how I feel sometimes talking to clients, like they are 5 year olds. It is almost like someone who speaks a different language, we think we need to talk louder so they can hear us.
    Next time I am on the soccer field and my husband and I coach our 7 year olds team, I will remember this post.