Parenting a young athlete is exciting and tough, both at the same time. Excitement of the little you-know-what-happened-today stories or, those special moments when your little kid talks to you as a friend and even tells you a secret maybe, and those precious times when you see your little one play and fight it out on the field, all of these are amazing feelings comparable to none other. But, at the same time, keeping up that trust and staying a friend (who doesn’t turn into a parent all of a sudden), is perhaps one of the toughest things you’ll ever have to do.
Parent v/s Friend, What’s the Difference
A parent would advise, a friend would understand. That difference might not mean as much to you, but it means the world to the child. When you look at problems from parent’s perspective, those problems may seem too small or too silly, but if you get into the kid’s shoes, you’ll know, how huge that problem can be in their little world.
Parents approach to the youth sports is different, and for valid reasons. If the child has potential, parents want it to be tapped. They spend time and money ensuring the kid gets the right exposure and training that can help create a future for the kid. This a big responsibility and parents often succumb to the pressure, which translates into parents passing on the pressure, directly or indirectly, on to the child. They advise, expect, ask, demand, which is natural maybe, but that’s surely not the best way of dealing with young athletes.
Parents need to make conscious efforts to deal with kids in a way that kids relate to them, trust them and look up to them, and not avoid them, show behavioral or emotional problems. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Just by choosing the right words you can make a huge difference in the relationship you share with your child. Here’s a list of some of the magical words:
- Hi – as soon as the kid comes back from practice, game or school, don’t start throwing questions - How did it go? What did the coach say? Did you win? How did the test go? Just let the kid get in the car, breathe in a moment. For all you know she’ll be the one jumping with excitement to tell you about what happened.
- Have fun out there – Don’t keep telling your kid to win. She already has that pressure, from the coach, peers and of course from her own self. Relax her pressure by bringing down the expectation. Principally, if she actually enjoys herself in whatever she’s doing, her performance will be far better than what it will be under stress.
- I’m proud of you – Let the kid have pride and confidence, tell her you are her biggest fan, tell her you love to watch her play, tell her she is beautiful in her unique way.
- I love you – Tell your kid you love her in spite of whether she loses or wins. Tell her you love her for what she is and not for what she can be. Remove all conditions, clauses and sub-clauses, tell her you love her more than you love her achievements.
- Can you help me fix this – Kids these days are more mature and sensible than what we were as kids, and with every passing generation it just gets better. Don’t treat your kids as kids, treat them respectfully as ‘little adults’. Whether it’s an emotional issue or a thing that needs to be worked upon or needs to be mended, seek help from your kid. The trust and dependency will do wonders to the child.
Hope this advice helps you as much as it helped me. Happy parenting!