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Youth sports is a world of many discussions: There’s what goes on between parents and children, parents and coaches, coaches and athletes, and athletes with other athletes. But some conversations can get neglected, especially when the season gets extra busy. Surprise: They’re the conversations parents should be having with themselves, and they can make all the difference when it comes to handling tough sports situations.
Here’s the thing: You typically want to think before you speak, and the same goes for working things through on your own. When parents take the time to think through what they want their children to experience via sports, it sheds light on how to best handle tough situations.
Here are four conversation starters to help get the ball rolling:
What do I want my child to get out of their sports experience?
Do you see after-school sports as a form of babysitting, or do you want your child to actually learn something from the experience? And if so, what?
Write down your sports-parent core values based on what you want your child to experience, whether they play until they are 10 years old, or 22.
How will I stay positive when my child faces problems I think are not their fault?
This can happen a lot. How are you going to react when your child complains about their coach or teammates? And what can you do to maintain your own positive attitude?
Keep in mind that your responses to your child’s problems will shape how she responds. If you rant and complain, she will take that negativity to practices and games. Is that what you really want? Pause and reflect.
How will I react when my child has a weak performance?
Will your child sense disappointment? Will they be afraid to get into the car with you after the game? What is it that you want them to feel? Maybe the better question is: How would you feel if this happened at work and what would you want to hear from your boss?
Why is it so important to me that my child has success in their sports?
Perhaps you’re frustrated because you didn’t do well when you played sports and you want to see your child do better. Or maybe you were an excellent athlete and you expect your child to follow in your footsteps.
This is a hard one for sports parents to be honest about because they don’t like admitting that their child’s performance may be attached to their own ego.
As you have this conversation with yourself, determine exactly what “success” means in your child’s situation. Every athlete’s success is unique to their own skillset and goals. Your child’s success should never be compared to another child’s success.
You may be thinking that introspection is not your thing, but I encourage you to take a few minutes and think through these internal conversations. They will prepare you to victoriously handle whatever the season throws at you and your young athlete.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.