Because every sports family is different, there are really no one-size-fits-all parenting strategies. But there are some common traits that a happy and healthy sports family exhibits.
Whether you are a blended family, single parent family, large family, only child family, divorced family, adoption family–the following characteristics and habits will help you lay a strong foundation in your children that will help you be well on your way to raising champions.
“Good communication” does not mean excessive talking, yelling or venting. It does not mean coaching your kids in the car on the way to and from the game. Good communication has these components:
• active listening
• attention to body language (which sometimes speaks louder than words!)
• respect (not demeaning language)
• vulnerability (saying “I’m sorry” when necessary, especially when you say something stupid to your child after a game)
• asking thoughtful questions which shows interest, but don’t leave your child feeling smothered
• filtering your words, especially on sensitive topics (like your child’s playing time or the effort you think they are making?)
Good communication takes work. Sometimes very hard work. But the benefits of open, honest dialog with your kids will be life-impacting in your relationships.
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Understanding each other’s love language
Each one of us speaks a different love language.
Do you know which one of these love languages says “I love you” the loudest to your child?
• words of affirmation
• quality time
• acts of service
• physical touch
• receiving gifts
If your child has behavioral issues, consider how you are expressing your love to them. It may be that their love tank is not being filled and that’s why they are acting out. Figure out their love language, speak it to them and see if it starts to make a difference.
I’ve been in a lot of good homes that were just that…good. And then I’ve been in homes that were beyond good. They were fabulous. What’s their secret ingredient? What adds the spice, the kick, to a home? What can help take it beyond good to GREAT?
Especially when it comes to playing sports. Don’t take everything so seriously. Learn to laugh at yourselves and help your children learn to do the same.
When people laugh, walls go down and bonds are built. Laughter is amazing medicine and the family that laughs together, in my opinion, has a better chance of staying strong and close as they grow up.
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Last, but not least, is the core values that you and your family establish in your home. These are the principles upon which you base your family choices and parenting decisions. These are the truths that become your child’s “inner voice” to guide them when you are not there to push them in the right direction. They affect every area of your life—youth sports, school, work, family.
Establish the values, then teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Weave them into conversations and actions, even without saying them. Make them your child’s true north.
Families are often messy and adding youth sports to the mix complicates things. But the rewards of focusing on being a family with these traits, despite the imperfections are life-long.
Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.