How parents can enjoy youth sports a whole lot more

By Janis Meredith | Posted 5/16/2018

Do you know how to relax and enjoy youth sports and stop taking your child’s game so seriously?

At every youth sports event, there are parents who take their children’s games way too seriously, to the point of caring about the game more than their kids do.

They get tense and express their frustration to the coaches or officials, or they pace the sidelines, unable to calm down and enjoy the game.

There are also times when you can’t see the effects of taking the game too seriously because it’s something parents keep to themselves. Losing sleep, worrying, badgering kids to work harder … these are all very clear signs that parents need to lighten up and remember that it is YOUTH sports.

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When you are tempted to take your child’s game way too seriously, remember these three positive habits:

Let go of your anxiety

It’s not likely that you will be able to remain aloof or apathetic to your child’s sports, and of course there will be times when you’re nervous for them. But letting go of your anxiety means you are not so obsessed with your child’s performance that you can’t see the bigger picture of sports.

Help them improve, yes! Challenge them to work hard, yes! But never, ever forget the most important part of your children’s sports playing is not stats, press clippings, or awards. The most important part of sports is who your children become in the process. When you can see the bigger picture, then and only then can you relax, knowing the world will not end if they don’t get their playing time or if they don’t score enough points.

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Let go and have fun!

Maybe the game was a disastrous loss. Or your child only played two minutes. Or maybe your athlete got in the game, only to make some major errors. But despite the mistakes and the embarrassment and frustration, there is always something to enjoy.

Look for your child’s small victories — they are in every game.

Recognize skills and plays on both sides.

Sometimes, it is just simply the fact that your child is able to play sports.

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Let go of your child’s battles

Part of a parent’s job is to be in control … at least for a while. But the other part of a parent’s job is prepare your kids to be in control. And that’s why you must start releasing them a little bit at a time.

Let them make mistakes … and show them how to learn from them.

Encourage them to fight their own battles, whether it’s confronting a coach or a teammate.

Teach them how to make their own choices and how to understand the consequences of those choices.

Resist the temptation to always make their path a smooth and easy one. There are times to step in and help, and there are times to let them figure it out on their own.

Being a sports parent is consuming and emotionally draining, adding another layer of challenge to the already demanding job of parenting. But I am convinced that if you can remember to develop these three habits, your child will learn to enjoy competition — win or lose.

Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for parents. This post is an excerpt from her book 11 Habits of Happy and Positive Sports Parents.