You could buy your young athlete new athletic shoes, a new sports jersey, or even a week at a super sports camp. You could give them a new basketball hoop, new sports gear or even two tickets to their favorite pro team game.
But in addition to all of these good gifts, what your child really needs—and may not even know it themselves or how to ask for it—is a gift that will keep on giving, a gift that they will carry with them into adulthood, and a gift will ultimately return to reward you.
Your child needs the gift of RELEASE.
Giving your child that gift means that you do not hover over every game and practice. It means that you do not coach them in the car to and from the games or every dinner time, or basically any time you feel the need to “help” them improve their game.
Giving your child the gift of release means that you will not step in to fix every problem your child's faces or insert yourself into a situation that should be their battle to fight.
Giving your child the gift of release puts the responsibility of success and choices on your child, letting them reap the rewards and suffer the consequences of those actions.
The gift of release is hard to give because parents keep wanting to take it back. You may give it one week, and then the next week forget all about it and take it back because you are so frustrated with the coach or the team.
The gift of release is also a gift that can be re-gifted over and over. If you impulsively take it back after you’ve given it, you can easily give it to them again. And again. And again.
The funny thing about giving the gift of release to your child is this: in a very strange and unexpected way, it’s also a gift to yourself. Learning to give up control of things that most of the time you have no control over anyway is a very freeing exercise. It relieves stress, anxiety, and the load that may be keeping you from fully enjoying your child’s youth sports journey.
It’s a gift that keeps on giving to your child AND to you.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.