We know that parents have the best intentions for their young athletes. However, there are times when taking a step back can benefit children’s growth.
Sports are an area where children have the freedom to learn for themselves: choosing a new sport, working in a team setting, finding their talents, learning new skills, pushing their bodies and minds, and understanding the importance of success and failure. Sports parents are often tempted to jump in and “protect” their children after a tough loss, or an intense practice. However, children often feel added pressure when parents overstep their boundaries in sports.
As a parent, you want the best for your children in sports so you may offer them words of encouragement and advice. Parents feel anxiety for their children at the thought of rejection from a team or failure. Yet, many children also feel anxiety due to these types of expectations imposed upon them by their parents. It is a coach’s job to prepare their athletes. So, while telling your child, “I know you will win today” before a big game or tournament may seem like an encouraging gesture, it places a high expectation on your them.
If they lose the game, they may feel as though they are letting you down. Fear of failure can lead to decreased concentration and poor sports performance because children become so fixated on pleasing their parents.
Here are some ways to positively take part in your children’s sporting lives:
- Attend all sports events with a positive attitude. Your child will feed off of your energy.
- Show support by attending all games/matches/tournaments/etc.
- Instead of offering advice to your child before a sporting event, simply tell them you love them.
- If your child is stressed or nervous, encourage them to talk to their coaches.
- Avoid shouting negative comments from the sidelines and do not show looks of discouragement.
- Do not discuss faults or mistakes with your child. Instead, discuss the importance of trying your best and having fun.
- Remind yourself that it is okay for your child to lose an important game or not make the Varsity team tryouts. All of these tough situations can teach your children important lessons.
- Most importantly: Remind yourself that you are a parent, not your child’s coach; allow the coaches to do their job and allow your child to learn from them.
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