How to motivate your kids to carry on when the fight gets tougher in youth sports
According to a research conducted by National Alliance for Youth sports, around 70 percent of kids dropout of organized sports by the time they are 13. This is a scary statistic for parents who are investing a lot of money, efforts and not to mention hope in providing for the professional sports coaching for their children.
There are numerous reasons for this. One of the major reasons could be that youth sports has become so competitive and victory oriented, that kids do not enjoy it after some time. Especially if your child has been playing professionally organized sports from a very young age, by the time they reach adolescence they are worn out. Plus, coaches and even parents become too pushy, even if they do not admit it, and every game is seen as a victory or a loss. And as if all this wasn’t enough, there are lessons learned and analysis around every game. To make the long story short, there is too much obsession with success around youth sports and children are no longer expected to just play for fun.
Another very obvious reason is the age, of course. At 13, they are fickle, and then there’s so much more to do at school, that giving the kid of time youth sports demands, becomes really difficult.
All that said, sports till remains to be one of the best mediums of learning life skills like team work, sportsman spirit, striving to win, leaning to lose, and practically everything that’s important in life. As parents you cannot let your kid quit on all of that. Here are a few tips to help your children stay in sports and drop out.
- Redefine success for your child. Do not get obsessed with the outcome of the game, rather focus on the progress your child makes. For instance, if she did better running than last time, celebrate that even if the lost in the race. If your child helped a teammate, applaud her team spirit. Every game should make the child feel they are achieving something, even if it is the ability to lose gracefully. This will play a major role in keeping your child’s focus on the life skills which would be the most important take away from the game anyway, even if your kid grows up to be a star athlete.
- Be a role model and not just pretending not to care. So while you are focusing on the learning part of the game in front of the kid but having discussions or bragging about their performances with other parents, it doesn’t really set the right example. Remember your kid is watching you and is going to eventually reciprocate what she learns from you. Do not compare skills or performance during play with any kid, do not crib or brag about your child’s bad or good game skills whatever the case, do not dissect the game.
- Be positive and supportive. Show them in action that you support them and are happy about their participation in the sport and are not going to judge their performance. This will need patience, a lot of it. Some children might be slow learners, children may lack one skill or the other, some children might be genuinely not interested. There can be other issues too. There can be peer pressure, bullying or just some adolescence stress which might be bothering them. Give them time, space and the support they need and you won’t regret it. Because when they eventually come along, they’ll come strong and positive, refreshed and ready to face it all.
- It sort of becomes compulsive for us, parents, to give advice all the time because we come from experience. But, refrain from it. many a times what your child is looking for is just supportive listening, and not parental advice or instructions. If you give them the listening they need, they’ll most likely come to you for the advice too, when they need it.