After the game, what do your kids hear?
Whether or not it was a crushing defeat or an exciting victory, or even a disappointing tie, you may put your arm around your athlete, hug them, or simply walk them to the car. What do you say after the game?
The first thing that comes to mind?
Sometimes that’s not a good thing.
Athletes are especially sensitive after games. Their emotions are real and raw–with either joy or sadness–and your words will either heal or irritate. Probably a good idea to think about what you say.
You may mean well with your words, but often kids hear parents wrong because their listening is clouded with their own emotion. If they are not not hearing what you are trying to say, what are they really hearing?
After a loss
You may say, “I know you tried your hardest. Good job.” But what he could be hearing is You tried your hardest but it just wasn’t good enough.
You may say, “Well, you can’t win them all.” But what she might hear is You guys aren’t really good enough and you’re just not going to win a lot of games.
You may say, “I can’t believe you guys let that one get away.” But what he could be hearing is You guys really blew it, you really should have won.
After a Win
You may say, “Great Job! You scored so many points! I am so proud of you!” But what she could be hearing is I’m so proud of you BECAUSE you scored so much. Period.
You may say, “Wow, that was exciting, I can’t believe you played so well!” But what he could be hearing is I really didn’t have the confidence in you and your team to pull it out.
You may say, “See what happens when you work hard?” But what she could be hearing is If you lose, it’s because you are not working hard enough.
Let’s not over-analyze
I’m not saying you should over-analyze everything you say. That’s tiring. And parents can rarely make sense of a child’s emotional misunderstandings. Kids will misread things you say even when your motives are loving and pure.
That being said, it’s still not a bad idea to lovingly filter what comes out of your mouth. The only things that should come through that filter after your child has given his all on the field or court are words that build up, encourage, and communicate unconditional pride and love. It’s a good time–after a game–to be extra sensitive because that’s when THEY are extra sensitive.
Sports parents get into trouble when they philosophize and comment on what when wrong or what went right at a time–immediately after a game–when your athlete really does not want to hear it. If they do want to hear it, they will ask.
And when they don’t want to talk or they walk alone to the car,don’t take it personally. It’s competitive overload. It will pass. And it’s important that they know you are always there to listen when they want to talk.
It’s September…time to start planning for the winter sports season!