How to show self control as a parent is a challenge for most sports parents.
In many ways, sports parenting can be like riding a see-saw; one minute you are riding high as you watch your child hit a home run, score a touchdown or make her first soccer goal. The next minute you are watching your child cry over a mistake or because he sat on the bench too long and you find yourself on the low end of the see-saw, looking up at everyone else’s success and wondering how to comfort your child.
How To Show Self Control as a Sports Parent: DON’T Get on the See-Saw!
The highs and lows of sports parenting are inevitable as your child experiences disappointments and victories. But the trick is learning to stay off the see-saw. If you don’t you will get sucked into your child’s crushing emotional defeats or–on the high end of the see-saw–carried away on the wave of success, losing perspective of winning and losing.
Just because youth sports can be an emotional roller coaster does not mean that you have to ride it.
I have to be honest and say that I struggled with this a lot. My children learned to grow and gain a perspective that helped them ride the roller coaster less and less, and my husband-coach, known as Steady Teddy on the sidelines, rarely let the ups and downs affect his optimism. I, on the other hand, let myself ride the see-saw and it drove my husband and kids crazy.
Perhaps these lessons that I’ve learned over the years of parenting will help you as you are faced with the temptation to jump on the see-saw.
You Must Zoom Out
Steadiness of mind comes when you force yourself to zoom out, much in the same way that a camera lens is steadier when you zoom out. If you’ve ever used the zoom on your camera to get a very close view of the subject, you’ll notice that it gets harder and harder to keep a steady hand for the picture the closer you get, while zooming out gives you a must steadier shot.
As parents, it’s very easy for us to be zoomed in on our kids, and the closer we zoom in, the harder it often is to remain calm about all the little things we see that we don’t like. When you zoom in, you will focus on every little miserable detail–how many minutes your child is on the bench, the way coach looks at your child, your child’s demeanor on the sidelines–and it will drive you crazy.
Zooming out, however, allows you to have a steadier viewpoint as you see the bigger picture. You see, it’s not all about the innings your child plays, the position he wins, the awards he gets, the recognition he receives in the paper; it’s about WHO your child is becoming in the process. The more you make yourself zoom out, the more you will see that and the less likely you will ever be on that irritating see-saw.
You Must Loosen Your Grip
I know how hard it is to let go. I still struggle with this, and all my kids are in their 20s! But letting go is something parents must start practicing early. Loosening your grip means that you do not try to control your child’s future, you do not fight her battles for her, and you do not insert yourself into every challenge that she faces.
If you have a tight grip, you will be tense and you will never get off the see-saw of parental emotions. However, as you loosen your grip, you will find that the steadiness of not being on the see-saw is much more relaxing, and will help you get along better with your child. A tight grip on your child will not nurture a healthy parent/child relationship.
You Must Ask Yourself What?
What can your child learn from this mistake that will set her up for success next time?
What will your child learn from watching how you handle stress and uncertainty?
What character traits are you reinforcing when you nurture an entitled attitude in your child?
It is inevitable that children start to mirror behaviors that they see in their parents. And so, you must ask yourself, WHAT does my child see? Does she see a tense, over-involved, controlling parent? Or does she see a steady, supportive, positive parent?
After over 30 years of observing youth sports–as a parent and as a coach’s wife–I can tell you that behind most entitled, selfish players are parenting mirroring those very same attitudes, and behind most team-player athletes are parents modeling good sportsmanship. You cannot ask more of your child than you are willing to do yourself.
Parents, you don’t have to ride the see-saw. You can get off and purpose to zoom out, loosen your grip and ask what? Those simple, but hard, steps will transform the youth sports experience for your child and for you.
Do you have a hard time dealing with your child’s playing time?
Have you ever struggled to see eye-to-eye with her coach?
Are you ever at your wit’s end because your child seems to be sabotaging his own sports success because he’s not working hard enough or performs apathetically?
I can help you!
As a sports parenting mentor and coach, I will coach you on how to help your child win the playing time battle.
I will coach you on how to handle coaching conflict and communication.
I will coach you to help your child perform to their best.