Sports parents, what’s the conversation like in your car on the way home from your child’s game?
Something happens to sports parents when they leave the gym or field and get in the car. Doesn’t matter if your kid won or lost, doesn’t matter if he started or even played. Doesn’t matter if you are climbing into a Mercedes G class wagon or a ’97 Toyota Corolla, the car ride home always seems to draw comments out of our mouths that we often regret saying.
If you’re not sure what your child wants to hear in the car after a game, then at least back off from saying what he doesn’t want to hear.
Don’t doubt his effort
You didn’t seem like you were playing your hardest.
Were you giving 100%?
I’ve seen you play much harder than that!
Whether your child is in t-ball or college, he does not want his effort to be doubted. If he was not trying his hardest, it will make him mad because he already knows he could have played better. If he was trying his best, it will make him mad because he will feel he can never play hard enough to please you.
Don’t point out obvious mistakes
If only you hadn’t missed that layup!
Too bad you missed that last goal attempt.
Man! If you just could have gotten a hit, the winning run would have come in!
Parents, give your kid some credit. No need to point out the obvious to her. She feels bad enough as it is. She knows she messed up. She knows if she could have made the winning difference.
Rubbing salt in the wound worsens the sting of her own personal disappointment.
Don’t critique his performance
Your child does not want to be coached during the car ride home. She doesn’t want to hear that her footwork was sloppy or that his shooting form was off or that her forehand technique was incorrect.
There is a time and a place for coaching and critiquing and it’s not on the way home after a game.
Don’t suggest the worst
Aren’t you afraid you will lose your starting spot?
Before you gasp at horror, I actually did say that to my high school volleyball-playing daughter after one game, and immediately regretted it. It was, without a doubt, one of the stupidest things I’ve ever said to my kids after a game.
That was 3 years ago. I apologized right away and my daughter forgave me. She still loves me.
Needless to say, being a wet blanket parent who cloaks fears–Will my child lose his starting spot? Will my child suffer less playing time? Will my child get hurt?–with declarations of “being realistic” is really only being a negative nancy that discourages and demoralizes.
Don’t ask a lot of questions
This is a hard one for me. I like to ask questions. But I’ve learned that my kids don’t like to be bombarded with questions after a game. My volleyball daughter–who now plays in college–remembers that she wanted to talk to her father more than me after a game because she knew he would not be full of questions like I am.
(My daughter just admitted this to me 5 minutes ago. I took it well.)
There’s always duct tape
If you or your spouse cannot bite your tongues and refrain from saying things post-game in the car that will do nothing to help your child learn and grow from his sports experience, duct tape will do the trick.
He who holds his tongue is wise.
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