Sometimes kids want to talk, and sometimes they don’t. There may be days when your young athlete comes home from a practice or game ready to chat and tell you about the plays he is learning or the points she scored in the scrimmage.
And then, inevitably there are days when your child comes home, goes to his room or plops in front of his computer with barely a word. Asking a question will get you a shrug or a one-word answer.
Here’s the deal: even with his silence, your child is still communicating loud and clear. Time, patience, and understanding are the only ways to hear what his silence is saying.
“I’m angry about my performance”
I didn’t play like I should and nothing you can say can convince me otherwise.
I sucked. I blew it. I let the team down.
“I’m embarrassed about my playing time”
I hate that I was the only one on the team who didn’t play.
Why can’t coach put me in more? I work just as hard as everyone else!
“I’m not having any fun.”
I’m only playing because you want me to. If I had my way, I’d quit.
“I don’t like my team or my coach”
My teammates are selfish, and act like they are the only ones who can play good.
My coach is mean and I don’t think he likes me.
“I don’t feel good”
I’m tired, hungry, sore. I don’t want to talk right now.
Breaking the silence
When my kids came home and didn’t want to talk, I learned to understand their silence. I could pretty much guess why they weren’t talking and I also learned that the only way to break the silence was to wait until they were ready to talk. I would make a positive, encouraging or sympathetic remark and then let it go. I knew that it was up to them to break the silence barrier when they were ready. Most of the time they would eventually talk. But sometimes it wasn’t until the next day or even a few days later.
The hard part is for us parents not to take their silence as a personal affront, but to let them know we are listening and loving even when they don’t have much to say.
Get my free new report: Sportsparents’ Guide: 55 time & money-saving tips guaranteed to make your life easier. You’ll also get regular sports parenting tips each week and a weekly parenting tip. Sign up here.
Get your dugout in order with The Bench Coach!