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The Response-Able Parenting Newsletter 27
April 15, 2004


Welcome! This is a free newsletter on becoming a Response-Able parent, raising Response-Able children.



My mission is to strengthen families and improve parent communication skills (including my own), by helping parents learn practical, useable verbal strategies for raising responsible, caring, confident children.





1. Quote [back to top]


"It is time to stop hiding behind the cliche that sports for children are wonderful character builders, and time to find a way to reduce the problems. We must find out how to organize sports programs for young people that are safe and healthy, and that provide positive learning experiences." ----Shane Murphy, Ph.D.


2. Fact [back to top]


Seventy-five percent of children drop out of organized sports by age 12. They say it's not fun anymore.


3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]


How would it change your parenting or your coaching if I told you YOU are the message? Not the sport. Not the skill set. Not the winning or losing. Not the rules. Those things are just the water you are splashing around in. Your children are learning about how to splash around in the water of life from watching you. You are the message.


Subscriber comments, ideas, and concerns are valued. Email your

comment to


4. Bumper Sticker [back to top]


Spotted on a blue Chrysler Town and Country minivan at a volleyball tournament in Dearborn, MI: Get Involved in Youth Sports Keep the Parents off the Streets


5. Article: "Lessons in Baseball" [back to top]


by Chick Moorman

As an 11-year-old, I was addicted to baseball. I listened to baseball games on the radio. I watched them on TV. The books I read were about baseball. I took baseball cards to church in hopes of trading with other baseball card junkies. My fantasies? All about baseball.

I played baseball whenever and wherever I could. I played organized or sandlot. I played catch with my brother, with my father, with friends. If all else failed, I bounced a rubber ball off the porch stairs, imagining all kinds of wonderful things happening to me and my team.

It was with this attitude that I entered the 1956 Little League season. I was a shortstop — not good, not bad, just addicted.

Gordon was not addicted. Nor was he good. He moved into our neighborhood that year and signed up to play baseball. The kindest way of describing Gordon's baseball skills is to say that he didn't have any. He couldn't catch. He couldn't hit. He couldn't throw. He couldn't run.

In fact, Gordon was afraid of the ball.

I was relieved when the final selections were made and Gordon was assigned to another team. Everyone had to play at least half of each game, and I couldn't see Gordon improving my team's chances in any way. Too bad for the other team.

After two weeks of practice, Gordon dropped out. My friends on his team laughed when they told me how their coach directed two of the team's better players to walk Gordon into the woods and have a chat with him. "Get lost" was the message that was delivered, and "get lost" was the one that was heard.

Gordon got lost.

That scenario violated my 11-year-old sense of justice, so I did what any indignant shortstop would do. I tattled. I told my coach the whole story. I shared the episode in full detail, figuring my coach would complain to the League office and have Gordon returned to his original team. Justice and my team's chances of winning would both be served.

I was wrong. My coach decided that Gordon needed to be on a team that wanted him — one that treated him with respect, one that gave everyone a fair chance to contribute according to their own ability.

Gordon became my teammate.

I wish I could say Gordon got the big hit in the big game with two outs in the final inning. It didn't happen. I don't think Gordon even hit a foul ball the entire season. Baseballs hit in his direction (right field) went over him, by him, through him, or off him.

It wasn't that Gordon didn't get help. The coach gave him extra batting practice and worked with him on his fielding, all without much improvement.

I'm not sure if Gordon learned anything from my coach that year. I know I did. I learned to bunt without tipping off my intention. I learned to tag up on a fly if there were less than two outs. I learned to make a smoother pivot around second base on a double play.

I learned a lot from my coach that summer, but my most important lessons weren't about baseball. They were about character and integrity. I learned that everyone has worth, whether they can hit .300 or .030. I learned that we all have value, whether we can stop the ball or have to turn and chase it. I learned that doing what is right, fair, and honorable is more important than winning or losing.

It felt good to be on that team that year. I'm grateful that man was my coach. I was proud to be his shortstop. And I was proud to be his son.


6. Article Reprints [back to top]


Chick Moorman's articles are available for reprinting and distribution. All I ask is that you keep my name at the top of the article and attach the following tagline at the bottom:

Chick Moorman is the author of "Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Child in Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility" and "Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child's Spirit." (Available from Personal Power Press at (toll-free) 877-360-1477.) He publishes FREE e-newsletters for parents and educators.

Contact him at to get your free subscription to one or both newsletters.

Thank you for your compliance with this request.


7. Parent Talk Tip [back to top]


"Did you win?"

After Kathryn's track meet, Elizabeth's softball game, and Parker's soccer match, each child's mother asked, "Did you win?"

Kathryn finished last on the hundred-yard dash. Elizabeth's team lost the game by one run. Parker played to a scoreless tie.

Because each parent directed her interest toward winning, she missed an opportunity to help her child focus on the many other joys and satisfactions of competition. According to traditional thought, none of these children won. In our society there is a pervasive belief that each event, competition, or category can applaud only one winner. So it is crucial for parents to seize opportunities to help their children focus on the process rather than on the outcome and move attention to the pleasures of participating.

Children in organized sports win and lose. One important goal for parents is to help them accept "wins" and "losses" with the grace that comes from understanding that "wins" are only part of the pleasure of competition. Camaraderie, testing oneself, belonging, effort, skill development, teamwork, sportsmanship, and learning are all important parts of the competitive process.

Winning does not have to equate with having the highest final score or with coming in first. We can begin to communicate this to our children by changing our parent talk from "Did you win?" to "What did you like about it?"

"What did you like about it?" takes the focus off winning and losing and moves it to participation. Other useful parent talk questions include, "Did you enjoy yourself?", "What did you learn?", and "What was your favorite part?" "What would you do differently?" and "What do you want to remember for next time?" are also useful questions to help children examine the process of playing the game.

Parents and coaches can lessen the emphasis on winning and losing by choosing language that helps children look at the many other aspects of the game. All children can be winners if they have fun, learn, improve, and participate. Use effective parent talk to help them make that connection.


Multiple copies of "Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Child in Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility" can be obtained at discount prices by calling (toll-free) 877-360-1477 or emailing


8. Youth Sports Guidelines for Parents [back to top]


By Chick Moorman

Softball, soccer, basketball, horseback riding, swimming, hockey, or volleyball — the sport doesn't matter. The guidelines for parents remain the same. To show support for your child while encouraging and teaching, consider the following:

1. Find out who will be coaching your child. Has the league run background checks on the coaches? Sadly, in these times the person you least expect could be a predator. Trust, but verify. Is the coach an encourager or a screamer? Does the coach focus primarily on winning or on participation and teamwork? Does he or she let everyone play at least half the game? Does he or she allow team members to play different positions, or are children pigeonholed into one position for the entire season?

2. Make sure your child is competing at his or her level of ability. Is your child overmounted, riding a horse too hot to handle? Is a travel team over your child's head or appropriately challenging? Are all your child's teammates bigger, stronger, and more skilled? It's no fun for children to compete when their chances of success are slim. Instead of pressuring your child to ride the newest horse or join the travel team, encourage your child to find enjoyment on a level where he or she can succeed.

3. Learn the rules of the game. Youth rules are not always the same as professional rules. More knowledge equates to less frustration and less yelling at officials, players, and coaches.

4. Remember that winning is only one of the goals of competition. Keep it in perspective. Winning is important; everyone likes to win. Yet playing to one's ability, giving strong effort, exhibiting good sportsmanship, improving skills, playing within the rules, and learning to lose with grace are just as valuable as winning. The lessons your child can learn when he or she doesn't win may be more valuable than winning that particular game.

5. Respect the other participants, including coaches, officials, and other team members. Cheer for members of the other team when they make a good play. Applaud the winning swimmer. Praise other athletes in front of their parents.

6. Hang onto your temper. Model restraint for your young athlete. Yes, get excited, but channel that excitement into encouragement and applause. Staying home is an option to consider if you lose control and occasionally berate officials or disrespect other spectators.

7. Refrain from yelling from the sidelines or stands. Players are too busy to process and integrate all the advice that is yelled from the sidelines, anyway. Often they don't even hear you. Check it out. Go out on the field and have some parent yell at you. See how easy it is to follow his or her instructions. That experience will cure you of yelling advice from the sidelines.

8. Get involved. Volunteer. The coach is giving up much time and energy to coach your child. Help out by organizing after-game treats and carpools and helping out with fund raisers. Lend a hand at practice if you feel qualified and the coach approves.

9. Praise your child for his or her efforts. Stay away from evaluative praise like "Good job," "Excellent play," and "Tremendous pass." Instead, give important feedback using descriptive or appreciative praise. Descriptive praise describes what was accomplished. "You threaded that pass right between the two defenders," "Your decision to take the extra base ended up with an important run being scored," and "Looked like you maintained your concentration after your horse changed leads on you" are all examples of praise that describes. Appreciative praise tells the effect the child's behavior had on the team. "Your pass set him up with the perfect opportunity to score" and "The way you were encouraging teammates got everyone excited" are examples of appreciative praise. Descriptive and appreciative praise will leave room for your child to make the evaluation.

10. Resist the urge to critique your child. Improvement is more likely in an atmosphere of positive encouragement. Often with positive intentions, parents inform children of their errors and how they can improve. This feedback is often unnecessary, as children are usually aware of their errors. They don't need parents making a verbal list of mistakes to be corrected. They need you to be there and to allow them to play and have fun.

11. Compliment the officials. Most officials are volunteers or older children working for minimal compensation. They are learning too. Even if you think an official made a bad call during the game, you can comment on his or her hard work. Say something positive to the officials, and let your child overhear you.

12. Cheer for other children. Focusing solely on your child sends the message that you don't care about the team or the event. It tells others that you are only there for your child. Compliment players as they are substituted in and out of the game. Applaud their accomplishments.


9. Facilitator Training in the Parent Talk System [back to top]


WANTED: Training facilitators to learn the Parent Talk System's Language of Response-Able Parenting model.

GOAL: To help parents learn effective verbal skills to use with their children.

Take a giant step toward helping the parents in your community. Become a skilled facilitator of the Parent Talk System by attending our summer facilitator training. Join the growing number of people from around the world (USA, Mexico, Spain) who have learned how to help parents raise responsible, caring, confident children. We will help you learn to put the highly effective Parent Talk skills into the hands of parents in your church, school, or organization. You will leave this three-day training with the skills and confidence to touch the hearts and minds of parents in your community!

Parent Talk System Training Schedule:
July 29, 30, 31
Dearborn, MI
Spring Arbor University Campus

Facilitated by Chick Moorman and Judith Minton. Limited to 25 participants. Graduate credit available. To request a detailed brochure, email (Be sure to include your mailing address.)


10. Managing Your Subscription [back to top]


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To find out more about workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses presented by Chick Moorman contact him at toll free, 877/360-1477 or email


Copyright 2004 Chick Moorman Seminars, all rights reserved. Share this with your circle.


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