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Maybe they are not getting the playing time they want or that you think they deserve. Or maybe they think the coach is being too hard on them. Or their grades are sliding, making them ineligible to play. Whatever your young athlete’s struggle, your first instinct could be to jump in and fix the problem. But when that urge hits, for everyone’s sake—not to mention your own peace of mind—it’s best to stay out. Here are four steps you can take to quell your impulse to step in:
Remember you have a choice.
The first step in fighting the urge to step in is to recognize it for what it is: a default reaction. And as an adult, you do not have to parent your children in default. Instead, you can choose your response, and choose to let your child handle the situation on their own. (Note: This is assuming the situation is one that doesn’t realistically warrant your help.)
Give yourself a time out.
Once you recognize that you have a tendency to react, you can take steps to correct that. Stop, take a deep breath, examine the situation from all sides and if need be, give yourself a time out to ponder the problem.
Ask yourself: What does my child need?
When you are in your parental time-out, ask yourself these two questions: What does my child need to learn in this situation? and What’s the best way for me to help them learn it? Do not return to the conversation with your child until you’ve answered those questions.
Think about the future.
Often a parent’s urge to fix situations for their child comes from a short-sighted mindset. Perhaps you’re worried more about today’s game or this season rather than thinking of the long-term effects your actions may have on your child. Children who get bailed out constantly grow up to be entitled adults who depend on others to help them solve problems. It’s not what parents desire, yet constant intrusions into a child’s life will not grow strong adults.
This fix-it urge is most likely going to be a life-long battle for parents. But the more you practice these steps, the stronger you become in your ability to resist the rescue impulse. It’s not a habit easily mastered, so be patient with your own progress.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.