As a parent, you probably do what you can to have a happy and healthy sports family.
The fact of the matter is that you are what you repeatedly do. If you’re not practicing healthy family habits, then chances are pretty slim that you’re going to have a thriving, happy sports family.
Your family will never change until you change your daily actions. So, where do you begin and what changes can you make? These five habits are a great starting place.
1. Give your young athletes words of affirmation every day.
Words of affirmation have several components to them:
· Words of affection – “I love you, you are awesome, I’m proud of you.”
· Sincere words of praise – no flattery, you can’t fool your kids.
· Specific words of praise – show them you are really paying attention.
When you can’t praise results, praise effort. This is so important in sports because it’s way too easy to obsess over the end results and neglect the growth that happens in the midst of it all.
2. Pay attention to your children.
Paying attention doesn’t mean just acknowledging – it means listening, watching or considering something very carefully. In other words, it means really connecting with your kids.
Paying attention includes these elements:
· Eye contact
· Listening for feelings behind the words
· Observing body language
· Hearing what your kids are talking to their friends about
Take advantage of the time you spend with your kids in the car on the way to and from games and practices. Listen in to they talk about, laugh about, worry about and what they’re interested in. You don’t have to say anything, in fact it’s best if you don’t. Just let them talk uninterrupted and I’m pretty sure you’ll get some great insight.
3. Ask Questions.
When your child comes home from a game or practice obviously bothered about something, it may be hard to get them to open up. Getting them to talk can be a process; it takes lots of patience on the parent’s part and a willingness to take advantage of communication opportunities that work for their child.
Ask questions that show your interest, and if your child’s not in the mood for talking, pay attention for moments that they’re receptive and open to having a conversation.
4. Build a Team.
A healthy and thriving sports family is one that can work as a team. Cooperation, sharing, helping each other out, looking out for one another – these are all ways that teammates support each other.
Be on the lookout every day for ways that you can work on family teamwork. Do some team building activities, hold weekly or monthly family meetings, be sure everyone is equally informed about schedules and make sure everyone knows how to express their feeling in a healthy, supported way.
5. Use the Family Compass.
Every family should have core values and those values will become the compass that guides your children when you are not around. Work with each other to establish those values and keep them visible for constant reference.
Do it daily, weekly, monthly, annually – as long as your kids are still in your care. The compass you instill in them when they’re young will continue to guide them as they grow up.
I wish I could promise that if you do these things, your family will be happy and healthy and never deal with challenged. But if I said that, I would by lying.
Even families who do everything right will face difficulties, but these guidelines will give you something to cling to when you’re wondering how to navigate through hard times. It will give you the right things to keep doing. That is the tough work of parenting; continuing to do the right things even when it seems like they’re not working.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.