Unfortunately, judging improvement by winning and losing is both an unfair and inaccurate measure. Winning in sports is about doing the best you can do, separate from the outcome or the play of your opponent. Children should be encouraged to compete against their own potential i. That is, the boys should focus on beating "Peter", competing against themselves, while the girls challenge "Patty". When your child has this focus and plays to better themselves instead of beating someone else, they will be more relaxed, have more fun and therefore perform better.
When a child performs to their potential and loses, it is criminal to focus on the outcome and become critical. If a child plays their very best and loses, you need to help them feel like a winner! Similarly, when a child or team performs far below their potential but wins, this is not cause to feel like a winner. Help your child make this important separation between success and failure and winning and losing. Remember, if you define success and failure in terms of winning and losing, you're playing a losing game with your child!
Your role on the parent-coach-athlete team is as a Support player with a capital S! You need to be your child's best fan.
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Leave the coaching and instruction to the coach. Provide encouragement, support, empathy, transportation, money, help with fund-raisers, etc. Most parents that get into trouble with their children do so because they forget to remember the important position that they play. Coaching interferes with your role as supporter and fan. The last thing your child needs and wants to hear from you after a disappointing performance or loss is what they did technically or strategically wrong.
Keep your role as a parent on the team separate from that as coach, and, if by necessity you actually get stuck in the almost no-win position of having to coach your child, try to maintain this separation of roles i. Don't parent when you coach and don't coach at home when you're supposed to be parenting.
Fun must be present for peak performance to happen at every level of sports from youth to world class competitor! When a child stops having fun and begins to dread practice or competition, it's time for you as a parent to become concerned! When the sport or game becomes too serious, athletes have a tendency to burn out and become susceptible to repetitive performance problems. An easy rule of thumb: If your child is not enjoying what they are doing, nor loving the heck out of it, investigate!
What is going on that's preventing them from having fun? Is it the coaching? The pressure? Is it you?!
Keep in mind that being in a highly competitive program does not mean that there is no room for fun. The child that continues to play long after the fun is going will soon become a drop out statistic. Number FIVE leads us to a very important question!
Why is your child participating in the sport? When they have problems in their sport, do you talk about them as "OUR" problems, i.
Are they playing because they don't want to disappoint you, because they know how important the sport is to YOU? Are they playing for rewards and "bonuses" that YOU give out? How invested are YOU in their success and failure? If they are competing to please you or for your vicarious glory, then they are in it for the wrong reasons! Further, if they stay involved for you, ultimately everyone will lose.
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It is quite normal and healthy to want your child to excel and be as successful as possible. But, you cannot make this happen by pressuring them with your expectations or by using guilt or bribery to keep them involved. If they have their own reasons and own goals for participating, they will be far more motivated to excel and therefore far more successful.
The most tragic and damaging mistake I see parents continually make is punishing a child for a bad performance by withdrawing emotionally from them. Keep this cheatsheet on your fridge so you remember the rules.
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