Why you should watch March Madness with your kids

Mar 23, 2010 at 3:45 p.m. ET

March Madness is the ultimate in college basketball. The top NCAA men's basketball teams battle it out for the top spot (which actually doesn't finish up until April). So, what can your kids learn by paying attention to this yearly rush of play and brackets?

March Madness Bracket

Whether your kids love playing HORSE in the driveway or wear jerseys for games in the school gym, basketball is a fun, exciting game to play and to watch. If it's a favorite of your kids' then now's a great time to gather as a family and watch some basketball - College basketball, that is.

March is the big time for the players of the NCAA basketball teams, who battle it out all month and into April to be the top college team of the year. "March Madness is a big thing in our house, we do a family bracket and the boys help me with my picks," says mom of three boys Audra Krell.

What? You don't watch with your kids? No time is better than now to start.

Why watch with your kids?

You have shows you like. Your kids have ones that they like. But things that you all like? Well, that's pretty rare.

But sports like basketball? They can be that rare opportunity where you and your kids can agree on what to watch. For Krell, watching sports with her sons helps her connect with her sons. "As a parent, I want to reach them where the live, by understanding their competitive spirit, and especially their love of the game. Watching sports together gives us a champion to cheer on together. Attending games and watching sports on TV equals lots of family time. When we spend time together, we know each other better," says Krell.

It helps if you really enjoy it too. "I enjoy sports, so does my husband and son. It is an activity that we can all share together and all of us enjoy," says mom Andrea Travillian.

Beyond the bonding opportunity, sports can be a great conversation starter for families too. "We cheer our teams and favorite athletes together, discuss the technicalities of each sport, complain about coaching (one of our most favorite activities - ha!), as well as discuss the news surrounding sports," says mom Bonnie Upright.

Upright says that she and her son spoke about the Tiger Woods situation, which offered several important lessons -- including how lying gets you nowhere.

Lessons from March Madness (and other sporting events)

There are so many things that kids can learn by watching sports -- particularly March Madness -- with their family.

  1. Do Your Best - While you might be able to fix mistakes in life, you can't take things back. Just the plays in a basketball game, you only get one shot to do it right the first time ... so all that you can do is just do your best ... every single time.
  2. Confidence - Got confidence? Those players sure have to! "March Madness is a great opportunity to talk about what confidence looks like, what influences confidence and when confidence is needed," says Julie Bell, Ph.D., founder and president of The Mind of a Champion.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice - Think those players get out on the court after loafing around? No way. They spend a good deal of time honing their craft. As they say, practice makes perfect.
  4. It's Not Over (Until Its Over) - If you aren't getting the results you want and nearing the end of a task, you should give up right? Wrong! NCAA players don't! "March Madness is my favorite time to watch basketball because the game is played until the buzzer sounds. Every year there is at least one (and usually more) of teams who win with under 10 seconds left in the game. The team mentally stays in the game and is focused on PLAYING rather than the outcome," says Bell.

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