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Does your athlete know the difference between self-blame and taking responsibility?
Perhaps you’ve seen your child beat himself up after making a mistake in a game. My three kids were their own worst critics after they had a “bad” game and the self-blame that often followed was never productive. At the time, I was never sure how to help them move forward.
I’m reading a book now called Change Your Questions, Change Your Life and the author makes a very important distinction between self-blame and taking responsibility that parents and athletes often don’t see. I surely missed it when my kids were struggling with this. Now, it’s very clear that the two are very different and should never be confused.
Self-blame is one of the most toxic forms of emotional abuse. It amplifies our perceived inadequacies, whether real or imagined, and paralyzes us before we can even begin to move forward. (Psychology Today)
Self-blame often looks like this:
I suck at this game.
I’m such a disappointment to my team. I don’t blame them for being upset with me.
It’s no wonder my coach doesn’t let me play much; I can’t do anything right.
This negative self-talk does not help your child work through mistakes. Taking responsibility, on the other hand, is totally different.
Taking responsibility means you recognize what you did wrong and you are focused on how to rectify it.
When your child knows how to take responsibility, it may sound like this:
I blew it; but I’ll get it next time.
I will NOT let that happen again!
Coach, I got this; I won’t let you down.
Do you see the difference? When your child is self-blaming, she is focused on the past and the mistake. But when your child is taking responsibility, she is focused on the future and what she needs to do differently so the mistake won’t happen again.
If your child has a tendency towards self-blame, talk with them about the difference between that and taking responsibility. You might talk about what taking responsibility looks like:
- It means you know what you want to be or how you want to play.
- It means you don’t blame others.
- It means you don’t blame yourself.
- It means you are honest about your strengths and weaknesses.
- It means knowing that you have a choice in what happens next.
When discussing this distinction with your child, emphasize that it is a discipline that he or she needs to work at every day. Picture the two, one standing on each shoulder, whispering in his ear. Which one will he listen to? Help your child understand that self-blame will keep her stuck in her mistakes, while taking responsibility will help her move forward and improve her game.
Are you struggling with a specific problem in your parenting? Do you feel like you’ve hit a wall and just don’t know how to move forward with a certain issue?
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This post contains an affiliate link. But the honest truth is that I started reading this book because I’m a life coach and am all about questions, and only put the affiliate link in as an afterthought. This book is already changing my outlook, and my questioning.