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 he learns to navigate the world of competition.
He needs you to watch and listen. Watch his games, listen to his complaints, his frustrations, his excitement, his joys, and listen without trying to teach or preach in between every one of his comments. Play with him yes, but as he gets older, resist the urge to coach him, unless you are his coach or if he asks for your help.
He needs you to remain calm. Don’t freak out when he doesn’t get his minutes or when the coach puts him at a different position or when a team mate gives him a hard time. Your calmness will help him remain calm and it’s a lot easier to figure things out when thinking rationally.
He needs to know that his performance doesn’t really matter. Well, of course it matters because everyone wants to succeed, but it shouldn’t affect how you treat him or how you love him. 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 his hard work, not his high stats.
He needs 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.