Last week I wrote a post on What to expect when you’re expecting an athlete and briefly mentioned the 3 Rs of sportsparenting: relax, rejoice, and release your athletes.
I want to say more about those 3 Rs because they are so important to you as a sportsparent. If you really want to help your athlete do his best, if you really want to help him succeed, if you really want to help him grow and develop, then read on.
When I say relax, I am not suggesting that you remain aloof or appear apathetic to your child’s sports. I’m not even saying that you shouldn’t get nervous. I’ve sat many hours in the stands with nerves on edge watching my kids play sports. Wanting them to do their best, praying they wouldn’t get injured, hoping they’d feel good about their performance.
When I say relax, I am saying that you should not be so obsessed with your child’s performance that you can’t see the bigger picture of sports.
Help them improve, yes! Challenge them to work hard, yes! But never, ever forget that the most important part of your child’s sports playing is NOT their stats, their press clippings, or their awards. The most important part of sports is who your child becomes in the process. Someday, they will outgrow sports, but they will never outgrow the character lessons they learn while playing.
When you can see the bigger picture, then and only then can you relax, knowing that the world will not end if they don’t get their playing time or if they don’t score enough points.
Maybe the game was a disastrous loss. Or your child only played two minutes. Or maybe your little athlete got in the game only to make some major goofs. Nothing to celebrate there, right?
Then look closer.
Underneath the mistakes and the embarrassment and frustration, there is always something to enjoy.
- Look for your child’s small victories–they are in every game.
- Recognize good skills and plays on both sides.
- Sometimes, it is just simply the fact that your child is able to play sports.
Rejoicing may not come easy for some of you. If so, you must practice looking for the positive.
Part of a parent’s job is to be in control…at least for awhile. But the other part of a parent’s job is prepare our kids to be in control. And that’s why you must start releasing them a little bit at a time.
Let them make mistakes….and show them how to learn from them.
Encourage them to fight their own battles, whether it’s confronting a coach or a teammate.
Teach them how to make their own choices and how to understand the consequences of those choices.
Resist the temptation to always make their path a smooth and easy one. There are times to step in and help, and there are times to let them figure it out.
Being a sports parent is consuming and emotionally draining, adding another layer of challenge to the already demanding job of parenting. But I am convinced that if you can remember to relax, rejoice, and release, your sportsparening experience will be much more enjoyable–for you and your athlete.