Through 21 years of being a sports mom, I’ve seen my kids cry in sports for different reasons: when they were hurt, when they lost a game that they fought hard to win, when they were frustrated with their performance or with the coach, or when they were excited with success.
Each of those reasons is valid and we should never tell kids that crying is for babies. Actually, crying is a healthy expression of emotions.
Many scientists believe that emotional crying helps eliminate stress-related hormones from the body and concur that crying improves the mood of 88.8% of people and it can also help with healing, boosting immunity, and reducing levels of anger and stress. Chemicals that build up during emotional stress may be removed in our tears when we cry.
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If your kid needs to cry, let him or her cry. Crying is not the problem. It’s the resulting actions and the underlying reasons that need to be dealt with.
Your child cries because they’re not playing as much as they want...and wants to quit the sport mid-season. Your child cries after fumbling a ball and/or turning the ball over ...and cannot compose themselves to finish the game.
Your child cries after losing a game...and stomps off the field in anger.
Brad Jubin, founder of www.APIVEO.com, and a youth sports coach in Georgia, tells how he helped one of his players who came to the dugout in tears after pitching. His dad told him to “suck it up.” But Brad took a different approach.
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“When you really care about something, and it doesn’t work out; it’s OK to cry. It shows how much you care,” he told the boy. “One of the things I like most about you, is how much you care. Don’t ever stop caring that much about baseball and what you have to offer to your team. You can keep crying if you have to, but I need you to finish it up soon because we need you. The game is not over, and your team needs you.”
It’s important that you don’t demean your child’s emotions, but it’s also important to help him learn to move past the feelings of the moment and continue playing if the tears come in the middle of the game. If they are after the game, help him steer clear of making decisions in the middle of that emotion. Encourage him to wait until he’s calm, or wait until much later -- to make decisions like quitting the team or that sport.
Crying is not the real issue that parents or coaches face when a child is sobbing. Tears are merely the outward expression of anger or frustration and those are the issues that you must talk about and help your child sort through as they face the tough lessons that youth sports bring.
Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.