3 Things Your Athlete Really Really Needs From You
Nutrition, clean uniforms, taxi service–your young athlete desperately needs your help to even make it to his sports event.
Most parents willingly meet these needs.
But your child needs more from you as they learn to navigate the world of competition.
They need you to watch and listen. Watch their games, listen to their complaints, their frustrations, their excitement, their joys, and listen without trying to teach or preach in between every one of their comments. Play with them yes, but as they get older, resist the urge to coach them, unless you are their coach or if they ask for your help.
They need you to remain calm. Don’t freak out when they don’t get their minutes or when the coach puts them at a different position or when a team mate gives them a hard time. Your calmness will help them remain calm and it’s a lot easier to figure things out when thinking rationally.
They need to know that their performance doesn’t really matter. Well, of course it matters because everyone wants to succeed, but it shouldn’t affect how you treat them or how you love them. You should never be mad at your child because they didn’t have a good game.
I would never do that to my kid, you say. But the thing is, sometimes we do it very subtly without even realizing it. We are quiet on the ride home when we are displeased or when we are happy that they did well or scored a lot, we reward them. Celebrations are definitely in order after a great achievement, but be sure that the celebration focuses on their hard work, not their high stats.
They need your support, not your pushiness. Parents can support their athletes by being positive, by being involved, and by just being there. If you fall into the hard-to-resist trap of being a pushy parent–which we are all tempted to do because we love our children and want the very best for them–you will most likely push them away from you rather than forward in their sport. Let a coach or trainer or teacher or team mate give them swift hard butt kicks to get them going; you should use gentle pushes sparingly.