If you really want to help your athlete do their best, succeed, grow and develop, then I have three simple suggestions: Relax, release, and rejoice.
When I say relax, I do not suggest that you should be apathetic about your child’s youth sports experience. I’m not even saying that it’s not okay to be nervous or even get upset about things that happen. Throughout the course of your child’s sports journey, there will undoubtedly be things that frustrate you or cause you angst.
What I am saying is that you should not be so obsessed about your child’s performance that you keep a very narrow view of the whole experience and refuse to see the bigger picture of the true value of youth sports.
What does it mean to see the bigger picture? It means that you can “zoom-out” and see more than just this game, this tournament, or even this season. It means that you never forget that the most important part of the youth sports experience is not your child’s stats, press clippings or awards. The most important part of sports is who your child becomes in the process. Someday, they will outgrow sports, but they will never outgrow the character lessons they learn while playing.
When you can see the bigger picture, then and only then can you relax, knowing that the world will not end if they don’t get their playing time or if they don’t score enough points.
One of the hardest jobs of parenting is learning to let go. For a while, when your kids are little, you are pretty much in control, but your job is to prepare your kids to someday be independent. And that’s why you must start surrendering them a little bit at a time.
Releasing means that you let them make mistakes and help them learn from them.
It means encouraging them to fight their own battles, whether it’s confronting a coach or a teammate.
Releasing includes teaching them how to make their own choices and how to understand the consequences of those choices.
Releasing complete control of your kids means that you must resist the temptation to always make their path a smooth and easy one. There are times to step in and help, but there are also times to let them figure it out.
Maybe the game was a disastrous loss. Or your child only played two minutes. Or maybe your little athlete got in the game only to make some major goofs. Nothing to celebrate there, right?
If you believe that, then it’s time to look closer, it’s time to really see. Underneath the mistakes and the embarrassment and frustration, there is always something to enjoy.
Look for your child’s small victories–they are in every game.
Recognize good skills and plays on both sides.
Sometimes, it is just simply the fact that your child is able to play sports.
Seeing the little victories may not come easy for some of you. If so, you must practice looking for the positive.
Being a sports parent is consuming and emotionally draining. It adds another layer of challenges to the already demanding job of parenting. But I am convinced that if you can remember to simmer down, surrender, and see the little victories, your sports-parenting experience will be much more enjoyable–for you and your athlete.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.