Your teen can work as a team during sports practice.

Importance of Teens & Team Work

by Erica Loop

Although your teen is most likely in a major independence-seeking mode, that doesn't mean she is always acting as an individual. As your teen broadens her social horizons, she is better able to work as a team and contribute to a group dynamic. While building a sense of individuality is a key part of the teen years, fostering team work skills -- including cooperation, sharing ideas and supporting others -- is equally important.

1. Sports

More than 44 million kids participated in athletic activities in the year 2008 alone, according to the National Council of Youth Sports. If your teen is one of the many adolescents who plays a high school sport -- whether it is at school, in the community or in the backyard with friends -- you are sure to see the value that team work has. KidsHealth notes that playing sports, and working towards a common goal with a group of peers, helps children of all ages to learn the importance of team work. Without an adequate understanding of how teams work, your teen may not reach his potential when it comes to sports participation. For example, if he's on the soccer field and refuses to pass the ball -- trying to make all of the goals himself -- it's not as likely that his team will win. Beyond that, the other players -- who are probably also his friends -- may resent his selfishness.

2. School

While some teachers insist that the students work independently, others may require your teen to complete an assignment or project with a group. Group work during school time requires a team player attitude, the ability to take other people's viewpoints into account and skills such as sharing and listening. Team work, during the school day, is also an important way that teens can learn about real-world situations that they may have to deal with sooner rather than later. College study groups, and later on -- professional group work projects -- require a team effort. Instead of waiting until your child is facing his first team meeting at his post-college job, learning collaborative skills early on can help him to jump right in to a group environment.

3. Social Situations

Team work, whether it's in school or out, can help your teen to build valuable social skills. Although your teen has far more sophisticated social abilities than she did as a younger child, she still may need to work on areas such as effectively communicating with others or taking someone else's point of view. As your teen moves away from spending all of her free time with you and the family and into more peer situations, she will need to broaden her social skills. Understanding how to function in a group and work as a team is a prime part of growing socially. For example, if your teen is planning a sweet 16 birthday party with her BFFs, she will need to work as a team with her friends to get all of the work done and have the best bash ever.

4. Employment

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that as of 2012, 19.5 million young people were working in America. If your teen has an after-school, part-time or summer job, chances are he will have to learn the importance of team work sooner rather than later. While some jobs, such as babysitting, may not necessitate a group approach, others -- such as working in a fast food restaurant or retail store -- may require a group effort. For example, if your teen works as a bus boy at the local diner, he will have to work with his team -- the cook and wait staff -- to ensure that the establishment stays clean and the customers have quick and reliable service. This can also help him later in life when he begins his after-college career and must collaborate with co-workers on projects or in meetings.

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