As you watch your child play sports, you observe many things: the mistakes they make, the fun they have, and the victories they chalk up. But some kids may be showing their parents something else that Mom and Dad just don’t see: They are ready for a bigger challenge.
Here’s what to look for to know if your young athlete is ready for bigger things:
Your child seems bored. This often happens with kids in school who are not being challenged. At first, parents may assume that their child is just being lazy and not trying their best, so they scold and push with little effect. Bored students and bored athletes are often just not being challenged, so they shut off their inner motivation that pushes them to do better.
Your child is skilled but still wants to quit. This is not necessarily a rule of thumb, but if your child wants to quit the sport that they are actually very good in, you might want to dig a little and find out why. It just might be that they are bored and ready for a bigger challenge.
They are tempted to play down. If your child is the standout athlete on the team, it’s easy to fall into the trap of not trying as hard. However, put them on a team where they are not the star, and they will be pushed to do better.
Competition is no longer fun for them. And the reason that competition is no longer fun for them is that they are not being challenged to work harder. If they are surrounded by athletes who can’t keep up with them, a young athlete may begin to feel that they no longer enjoy the game. But put them on a team that pushes them to improve in order to keep up, and if your child loves competition, they will come alive!
Your athlete is outthinking their teammates and coach. If your child is a student of the game as my son was—sports was his whole world—then they are sometimes way ahead of peer athletes and even some coaches. Youth sports coaches may not have the time or the inclination to learn more and become better at their coaching. In that case, a truly competitive athlete may need to move on to a coach who knows the game better than they do and will push them to the next level.
If you want to read these signs in your child, you will have to become an observer, a student of your child’s game, as it were. Track more than their stats; pay attention to their demeanor, their effort, and their enjoyment of the game. Your child could be ready for the next level and may not even be aware of it.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.