As parents, we can all relate to the challenges of wanting to see our kids succeed while also holding ourselves back in order to let them learn though their mistakes. None of us enjoy watching our children struggle, but it is through that struggle they grow into the adults who will not only become successful, but also positively impact the world.
One of the toughest questions parents ask is ‘how can I help my child succeed in sports in a positive way?’. This is a question I have asked myself on a daily basis as a parent. I’ve watched both my daughter and son have their success and their struggles. When I watch my kid’s games I often find myself questioning what they are doing on the court. Why the coach is or isn’t doing something, why their teammates and them are making the same mistakes over and over. Then I catch myself. I realize that I’m not at their practices, I accept I’m not the coach and, above all, I’m not the one playing in the game.
All kids will have days, seasons or even multiple seasons where they have ups and downs, face daunting challenges and make what we as adults view as basic mistakes they should know better than to do. As parents, we have to understand that our kids are learning as they grow. Those basic mistakes seem basic to us now because we already learned those lessons while our kids might still be in the process of mastering the lessons those mistakes teach them.
The question then becomes ‘How do I know when to step in and when I should hold back?’ This is a hard question to answer. Each situation is different, but there is a strategy I have found that helps create a positive dialogue with your kids and helps them grow as athletes, teammates and most importantly people while keeping you as a parent fully engaged without being overbearing.
FRAMING YOUR KIDS APPROACH TO SPORTS AND LIFE
It is critical that you place your child in the right mindset for how to view anything they do. If you have them feel that success is only measured in wins and losses or individual statistics, a single loss or a game where their shot isn’t falling can be devastating to their confidence and leave them looking for excuses instead of how to improve moving forward.
Here are three keys to instilling the right mindset.
1: Learn from every experience:
Losing can hurt, underperforming can leave a player doubting themselves and a bad grade in class can make anyone feel less intelligent than they really are. Instead of allowing your kids to dwell on those negative thoughts, ask them ‘What did you learn from the experience?’. This gets them thinking about the experience as a whole and not just the outcome. It also lets them have a positive conversation with you as a parent as they begin to process everything that was involved in the outcome.
2: Everything we do, we do with passion and without fear:
This one goes for both our kids and us as parents. If we want our children to give the effort that is needed in order to achieve their goals, then we as parents must set the example. If our kids see we are giving everything we have to help them reach their goals, they become more likely to put forward that same effort themselves. This sets up our second question to ask them; ‘How do you feel about your effort?’. If the answer is ‘I didn’t give it my all’ or ‘I could have done more at this point’ then they are finding further ways that they can grow and improve which is our goal as parents.
Mistakes are part of sports and part of life. As I said earlier in this blog, watching my kids make mistakes is one of the most frustrating parts of being a parent. However, teaching them to accept, embrace, assess and learn from those mistakes is critical to their growth and their mindset. When assessing mistakes with your child, ask them ‘What do you feel you could improve on?’. Make sure when you ask this that they understand you want them to answer with their views and not what they think you want to hear. For example, if your kid receives a poor grade on a test and you ask what they feel they could do better, they will probably say ‘Study more.’ That might be the correct answer, but they also might have studied for hours and only given that answer because it is something you have advised them to do before. The answer could be “Study more effectively and focus on the topics I know I struggle with.’
Making sure your child is giving their honest answer lets us as parents know where they are coming from and gives our children a sense of empowerment as they take greater responsibility for their actions and grow into Gamchenagers For Life.