New parents, veteran parents, confident parents, insecure parents–calling ALL parents with athletes of all ages—this post is sports parenting 101. No matter how long you’ve been parenting, there’s never a better time to lay the foundations in your children than NOW.
If your child is playing t-ball, now is the perfect time to start laying foundations.
If your child is in middle school travel ball, start laying the foundations with much more intentionality.
If your child is in high school sports, and you’ve not been laying these foundations, the task may be harder, but it’s better you start now than say it’s too late and give up altogether.
What exactly do I mean when I say “foundations”?
Foundations are the basis or the groundwork of anything. These are things you want your athlete to know first and foremost. If your child is grounded in these four areas, they will have the strong foundation they need to succeed in life when you are not around to guide them.
Your child needs to know….
They are loved unconditionally.
This may be a no-brainer to most parents, but what often happens is that parents who deeply love their children are not necessarily expressing that love in a way their child feels it. They may say they love their child, whether they win or lose or no matter how they play, but their actions say something different.
Be sure what you say and do are both expressing that love.
They have a compass.
What will guide your child’s choices when you are not around to help them make decisions? What will be the inner voice guiding them?
Every child needs a compass. A true north. That compass may be the family core values that you establish in your home. It may be a faith that you teach them. It may be boundaries that you set up as a family.
You decide what that compass needs to be and then you teach and guide your children to use it.
When they are faced with tough decisions that could literally change the direction of their lives or struggles in their sports or school, they will know where to turn to guide their choices.
They know how to communicate.
I don’t believe I ever met a family where people struggled to talk, but I’ve met lots of families where they were failing to truly communicate.
Communication is not just about talking. It involves active listening, paying full attention, asking questions that show interest, asking questions that encourage kids to share their thoughts and perspectives, and it often involves NOT saying the first thing that comes to your mind.
Sports parents would cut down on conflicts with their kids if they practiced biting their tongue more often and listened more intently.
They know how to love others.
Expressing love to your child so that they know they are loved is one side to the coin; the other side of the coin is teaching your children how to love others. Kids who don’t feel loved have a harder time sharing love with the people around them.
Raising compassionate kids is not rocket science. If you are practicing what you want them to learn, they will pick it up.
If your child knows how to love others, they will know how to respect others, how to share, how to work with others, and how to care for others. They will be good teammates and coachable kids.
How Strong are Your Child’s Foundations?
Building foundations in children takes intentionality. I recently read that Kim Kardashian’s secret to parenting was this: You just have to wing it.
I’m sorry, Kim, but I will have to disagree with your strategy. Flexibility is important, yes, but winging it as a parenting game plan does not usually have the best results.
If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time. What are you aiming for in your parenting?
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com