As a kid so many of us had that moment in the driveway playing basketball. Counting down out loud “3….2….1” and putting up a game winning shot to seal the victory and be celebrated by our imaginary fans and onlookers. Or we might drift off to sleep imagining the glory of hitting that home run in the bottom of the ninth and being carried off the field victoriously on the shoulders of our teammates. However, now as parents, that shining moment has shifted onto our kids and sometimes we could all use some sports parenting tips. We want so badly to see our kids succeed and have their time in the sun by achieving the goals and glories we never got the chance to when we were younger.
There’s also the other side of the coin in sports- the losing, the blowouts, the misses and the mistakes. One of the most important sports parenting tips is that it is as important it is to win and succeed, it’s equally as important to feel the agony of defeat. There will be games no matter if your child is six or sixteen to where errors will be made and moments of disbelief occur to where watching is just painfully difficult. However, knowing how bad a loss can feel also reminds us of how amazing it is to win and succeed.
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The one thing I grew to understand as a child athlete and as a parent is that emotion and stress are easily conveyed and transmitted from one person to another. Your attitude and emotions directly affect how your kid behaves on the court/field. There will always be drama and excitement and suspense during games to some degree, but the best way to deal with it is taking it in stride. The last thing any kid wants to hear during a game is a parent screaming at them to do better or be critiqued and criticized in the car all the way home following a loss or poor performance. Remember back to when you were young and how tough it was to be a kid and how parents never understood that? As much as we stress as adults, there were still things that weighed on your adolescent minds day in and day out. School, friends and of course sports all had their challenges and stresses. Now is your time to BE that parent and the rock your child can lean on when they need you. “I told you so” and “you should’ve done this” are never things your child wants to hear.
Now in reality, sports aren’t always sunshine and roses. I have three daughters and have been to what seems like thousands of games and it’s incredibly difficult to put on a happy face every single time. Almost inevitably we will have games to where someone on the other team is pushing your kid in the back when they have the soccer ball or fouling them overzealously when they go in for a lay-up. There will be moments that the bear inside of you will make you want to jump out of your chair and dropkick some little bully on the field if they keep putting their hands on your baby. There will be teammates that bark at your child constantly and you want to ring their neck and just yell “Shut up, already!” at them. But common sense, mindset and probably countless laws are in place that hopefully prevent us from acting out these impulses (even though this may be the hardest sports parenting tip to follow from time to time).
How you deal with these things is really up to you.
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There are exceptions to every rule and I’m honestly not sure if there is a “right” answer for every situation. I don’t have a magic manual or foolproof guide that will guide you in the correct direction. The one thing I can offer up no matter what the circumstance is to always be supportive. Always. We as parents can show that in numerous ways, so find yours and utilize it. Maybe it’s a simple hug following a hard loss or just saying four simple words: “I’m proud of you” to raise their chin back up. We were kids once and we had our shots. It’ no longer about us. Now it is their time and our role on and off the field is to support and love them. Game on!