Do you remember your child’s first game? His first touchdown, how he looked in his little uniform—it was all so fun at first, wasn’t it?
Sometime between then and now, however, a very subtle change overcomes many sports parents. Perhaps you’ve felt it. Instead of experiencing pure joy while watching your kids play, you now have tinges of stress and uncertainty.
If that’s true, chances are you’ve developed one or more of these parental habits that can suck the fun right out of watching your child play sports.
· Having unrealistic expectations of your child. Instead of demanding near perfection from your child, let him make mistakes without fear. Let him not always be on his game and give him permission to fail. Let him be a kid.
· Comparing your athlete to another athlete. This one is so subtle most parents don’t realize they are doing it. You may point out how good another athlete does in hopes of motivating yours to do better, but it doesn’t work. Your athlete has his own strengths and abilities. Let him excel in those without measuring him up to his teammates.
· Taking the game too seriously. Do you get really, really mad at the refs? Do you feel depressed after a loss or after your child has a bad game? Do you pour over your child’s stats and insist that the records be perfect? Do you push your kid so hard that they are starting to push back? These are pretty solid indicators that your child’s games have become way too important. Remember, they are called games. They are supposed to be fun.
· Worrying about your child’s performance. The funny thing about worry is that it never once helped my kids play better. It only stressed me out, and made watching the game less fun.
· Over-analyzing the game. Learning from the game is one thing; dissecting the coach’s actions, your child’s performance, or the team’s mistakes until you are sick of thinking about them is another. As an analytical person, I have lost my appetite, sleep and rationality because I tend to over-think. Sometimes you’ve just got to let it go.
· Failing to see the bigger picture. Just what is the bigger picture? That sports are not the end in themselves. Playing sports brings excitement and recognition. It may even help pay for college and open doors for the future, but nothing will ever be more important than the type of person your son or daughter becomes in the process.
I know about these bad habits because I have fallen victim to every one of them. Through my experiences, I have learned there is only one way to beat them: perspective.
Take a step back and look at the world outside your child’s sports. Being too wrapped up in their competition makes parents lose sight of what’s really important in life.
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.