10 negative thoughts holding you and your child back

By Janis Meredith | Posted 1/11/2017

Negative thoughts can be difficult to ignore. When they are most difficult to ignore, it seems that they affect all areas of our lives. In youth sports, parents often seem especially susceptible to negative thinking.

Best-selling author and self-help guru Stephen Covey tried to identify ways to break negative thought patterns.  

“We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything, if we cannot change our thinking,” Covey said.

Accordingly, here are 10 negative thoughts that may be holding you and your child back in youth sports.

  1. What happened in the past determines the future. Defeat is only a temporary condition, but giving up makes it permanent.
  2. I make too many mistakes. Failed attempts are part of the growth process. Overcoming failed attempts are what champions do.
  3. I care too much what other people are thinking about me. Ignore rude people who talk about you or your child, either to your face or behind your back. True strength is walking away from that garbage.
  4. I can’t. No coach wants to hear this phrase, ever. More importantly, no child should believe it. If your child believes they cannot do something before they even try, then they are already defeated.
  5. There’s so much that could go wrong. Stop second-guessing out of fear of what could go wrong…start thinking of all of the ways it can go right.
  6. I’m never going to get any better. Getting better at something is a journey, not a destination, and you can shape the journey. Focus on the good things that have happened, instead of what you wish would have happened.
  7. Dreaming is for dreamers. The real tragedy in life is having no dream to chase. It doesn’t have to make sense to you, just let your child dream. Life has a way of re-shaping those dreams without you crushing them.
  8. If only…I have heard parents used the ‘if only’ on their child. There are many variations:

    - You had a great game, but it would have been your best if only you hadn’t missed that tackle!
    - You had a really good game going, too bad you messed up that last pass you throw.
    - That game was fun to watch, you guys really battled. If only you caught that last pass, you would have scored the winning touchdown.

    Parents, don’t give your kid credit and then negate it with your negative thinking. No one needs obvious mistakes pointed out and reinforced. There is no doubt your child feels bad enough as is, especially if they could have made the winning difference.
  9. Playing time is what it’s all about. This may not seem like a negative thought, but it actually is quite negative. If you worry about your child’s playing time, especially in front of your child, it drives them to base everything–especially self-esteem–on playing time.
  10. I suck. You may, or may not, ever hear your child say this, but there’s a good chance you will sense an ‘I suck’ demeanor when these thoughts occur. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to help a child out of these doldrums. It is best to listen and encourage them to keep doing their best, and no matter what happens, let them know you are always proud of them.

If your child is going to turn around negative thinking, then they need a good role model who is doing the same.

Are you providing a good role model to help your child better cope with negative thoughts?

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.