I’m sure I’d get little argument in suggesting that sporting ‘bad boys’ occupy more than their fair share of space in our newspapers these days. However, this article, published in the Sydney Morning Herald recently, is far more worthy than most.
In summary, it discusses a US study that has identified distinct psychological differences between well-behaved, and not-so-well-behaved athletes.
In a study of 60 elite sportspeople, forensic psychologist, Jeffrey Pfeifer, found that those with histories of crime had little experience making decisions in their earlier lives.
These subjects had problems recognising the feelings of others, lacked self-control, were overly self-centred and believed they would never get caught behaving badly.
So the idea for parents is simple — allow your children to start making decisions for themselves today. Now I’m not suggesting you ask your four-year old whether he’d like to sit the Melbourne High entrance exam in nine years’ time. Basic, everyday decision-making is what should be encouraged. For example:
- Do you want a half a glass, or a full glass of milk?
- Should Isabella come over before or after lunch?
- Should we take an umbrella on our walk?
By regularly posing these sorts of questions, you will effectively be training your child’s brain to be discerning and comfortable making decisions. The potential long-term benefits, as the study suggests, can be dramatic … and he/she certainly doesn’t need to be the next Chris Judd or Sam Stosur to be eligible for them.