If you are a sports parent, don’t you just love being a part of your kid’s sports life? Aren’t you excited that your kid is enjoying the game so much? Well, we all do. But for most parents, this excitement soon crosses the line to become an obsession, and then the whole emphasis on winning and sports career and college scholarship comes into picture.
Not only does this obsession spoil the fun for your child, it spoils the game for all involved, the coach, the team, everyone. The obsessionis contagious. Some kids who came together just for the fun of playing a game, now represent the school team, a school team that needs to represent school, win tournaments, produce star athletes and so on. While all of this is actually as good as it sounds, there’s a little problem here: not all kids want to become pro athletes or star champions, and not all the kids are cut out to do so. It’s not because the kid lacks a skill or two, it’s because the kid just doesn’t want to. This is a double-edge sword. For parents who are spending a fortune on the kid’s training, it’s natural for them to expect the kid to compete and go as high as she can, or even push limits and perform beyond the imagined capacity, and for kids who like to play but do not want to go pro, it’s unnecessary pressure they have to live in.
For most parents the concern is pretty natural; if my child is playing, and is playing well, maybe she’s too small to realize she could excel in it only if her natural talent nurtured well and skills are honed. This is a valid concern. But on the other hand, there are many kids who play very well but maybe want a career in some other field, or do not want to make the career choice as yet and live in the pressure.
Where do you draw the line? How do you decide whether the kid needs to take pro training or not? While these questions sound so complicated in themselves the answer is pretty simple: why be in a hurry to decide as yet.
My advice to parents: let kids be. If your child has in-born talent and liking for the game, you wouldn’t be able to stop her. There are so many athletic stories that tell us that talent and passion would bloom, irrespective of the background, the facilities etc. If she is willing to be a part of the team, don’t stop her. If she doesn’t want to be a part of the team, motivate her, but do not force her. Even if you make her join a club or a pro training program, make sure the training is age appropriate, and most of all, your kid is enjoying it.
If you see signs of fatigue, anxiety, dullness and see a repeated pattern in it, perhaps it’s time to talk to your kid. Take her into confidence, and try and understand if she is getting bogged down because of the pressure or she is not liking the game. If, at any point you feel she’s wants to quit and for the right reasons, let her.
Sports are supposed to be good, positive activity for kids. But if this activity becomes the very reason for negativity, anxiety, depression etc. in your kid’s life, make her quit. Understand not everyone was born to become a sports champion; let your kid become the champion of what she wants.