Negative emotions are going to happen in the world of youth sports. In fact, it’s a hotbed for them. I’ve been reading the book by The 4:8 Principle Tommy Newberry and I’d like to adapt his thoughts on negativity to the world of sports parenting.
All you have to do is sit in the bleachers at any football or basketball game–ANY youth sports even for that matter–and you will hear parents angrily expressing their frustrations and opinions.
Most sports parents think there are only two ways to deal with the negative emotions you feel: you can suppress them by keeping them buried inside (this will probably result in you getting sick). You can express your negativity to the people around you and make them “sick.”
But there’s other ways to handle them besides suppression and expression.
Consider this: you can learn how to minimize negative emotions so they do not dominate your youth sports experience.
Negative Emotions Diet Plan
Negative emotions are like a campfire, you “put them out” with positive thinking. You starve them, put them on a very stringent diet so that they cannot survive.
Here’s the plan:
- Face the emotions. They are a warning light to what could really blow up further down the road. Don’t ignore the warning light. Acknowledge the emotional struggle and deal with it. Let’s say you are frustrated that your child sat the bench today. But you hope it doesn’t happen again and try to just forget about it. Then it happens again and again and finally you blow up at the coach, embarrassing yourself and your child. Facing those emotions sooner could have staved off the blowup.
- Challenge the validity of the negative emotion. In other words, does your thinking really have any grounds? Or are you wasting your time “what-iffing”? Feelings are not always true. Sometimes you have to admit that your feelings do not always reflect the actual truth. You may be convinced that the coach hates your child because he’s always pushing him harder and expecting more out of him, but the real truth may be that he sees more potential in your child and wants to help him reach it.
- Accept responsibility for your emotions. Don’t blame the ref or the coach for “making you mad.” The only one responsible for your anger is you. No one can make you angry; you allow yourself to get angry.
- See the big picture. I’m all about seeing the big picture of youth sports and it’s true importance in your child’s life. When you feel anger or frustration coming on, remind yourself of what’s really important. Is it how many minutes your child plays? Whether your child starts? Or plays the position he wants? In my humble sports parenting opinion–and after much struggle with this in my own sports mom life–I can tell you that the type of person your child becomes in the process is much more important than all of those.
- Drop it. Just don’t let your mind go there. Don’t indulge your negativity. I think that sometimes we forget we actually do have a choice in how we behave.
- Get some alone time. From time to time, you may need to back away from the problem and let yourself get settled down. Shut yourself in the bathroom or go for a walk, do whatever you have to do to sort things out.
- Focus on others. When you look for ways to help others, it takes your mind off your own negative thoughts. Look for ways to help other parents or volunteer to help the team. It’s amazing how serving others gets your mind off your own problems.
As long as your child plays sports, you will be tempted to spew negative emotions. It just comes with the territory. But if you are willing to put your negativity on a diet plan–a starvation plan–you and your child will reap the full benefit of a healthy youth sports experience.
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