It’s a thankful time of year and many of us have no problem coming up with a list of things to be thankful for as we sit around the Thanksgiving table.
But when it comes to youth sports, we might have to pause. Because if we are being honest, we must admit that often there’s a lot of things that are hard to be thankful for in youth sports. I’ve come up with a list of ten things that are hard to be thankful for and the reason why you can be thankful even when it doesn’t make sense.
Perhaps, like me, you’ve found it hard to be grateful when:
- Your child gets cut from the team. If your child can use this hard experience to make him determined to work harder, then being cut is not the end of the world. One mom tells about her son’s experience:
My son tried out for a swim team at 7 and did not make it. He was crushed. We joined another team in the same league with no cuts. He won high point award that first year in his age group. The next year he made league champs in two strokes and beat that other teams swimmers in butterfly. Sometimes being cut is the best thing to happen to a kid.
- Your child doesn’t get as much playing time as you or he wants. This is probably one of the top opportunities for character growth as an athlete learns how to be a team player.
- There’s stiff competition on your child’s team for his spot. You child will learn to either step it up and compete for what he wants or he will find another spot where he can help out the team. Either way, there’s potential for great growth.
- Your child’s team just can’t win a game. Seasons like this are really tough, but your child can still learn to set and reach goals for himself as a player, even if his team is losing.
- Your child’s not getting the recognition you feel he deserves. It’s important for kids to learn to play for the love of the game, not for recognition and awards. Awards are fun, but they are not always the true measure of success.
- Your child gets injured. I’ve never been thankful that my child got hurt, but I was able to find things to be grateful for as I watched my child deal with the disappointment and then come back fully recovered. As my QB son said when his senior season ended because of emergency appendectomy, All things happen for a reason. Wise words from an 18 year old!
- Your child and/or his team is the underdog. When your child is the underdog, he can learn to focus on what he can control, not what he can’t. He can learn to stress effort, stay hungry, and separate his identify from his performance. Help him see this as an opportunity to help his team unite.
- You or your child don’t like the coach. Here you have a chance to show your child how to deal with people we don’t necessarily like. Your young athlete can learn to respect the position and treat the coach with respect,even if you and he don’t agree with the coach. This is the kind of lesson that will show itself later in life in the workplace for sure.
- Your child works hard yet still can’t seem to improve. This is a time to look for small victories and praise your child for his effort. This sort of character growth lesson hones in on his persistence muscles, muscles he will surely use down the road as he gets older.
- The drama and politics of youth sports sour the season. All I can say about this is YUCK! There is absolutely nothing pleasant about youth sports drama and politics. But even in the midst of the crappiness, your child can learn to focus on wearing his jersey proud, playing for the love of the game, enjoying his team mates, and showing that it is possible to stay positive in the midst of turmoil.
Be Thankful IN Circumstances
The secret to being a thankful person–even a thankful sports parent–is to find something to be grateful for IN each situation. You may not be thankful and happy that your child broke his arm, but you can be thankful that he got good medical care and that your friends and family stepped up to help.
This Thanksgiving as you say thanks for all the good stuff in your life, remember that the hard stuff often results in the biggest blessings.
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