Signing your child up for a sport is one of the best things that you can do. Sports are a school of values but, like in life, sometimes there are difficult moments. So, how can you help them face sports competitions?
Keep in mind that, first and foremost, you are their parents and you act as their role models in life. They are the protagonist but need you and the coach to properly do your part. Many coaches will come and go during their athletic career, but you will always play the parental role. Encourage them through good and bad times. Respect their rivals, umpires, and coaches. Applaud their team’s successes as well as the ones of their rivals. Participate in club or league activities. Take an interest in the sport they are playing and delegate learning to their coach without stepping on their toes. This is your role.
Get together and write objectives for sports competitions. By doing this your child will see how much you will share with and support them at all times. It is important that these objectives are centered on what matters to your child (having fun, being kind to a rival, etc.) and not focusing on the results (to win or be the best). By doing so, we will stop prioritizing victories, which increases pressures, anxieties, and disappointment. Instead, we move the focus to the values reinforced by the sport.
Learning to have emotional stability will help your child both at practice and in competitions. Do not emphasize victory with excessive displays of happiness or defeat with negative messages and uncomfortable silences. Doing this will lead your young athlete to believe that winning is the only thing that counts. If this is the message that is remembered in their young minds the anxiety and fear of ”losing will disappoint my parents” will begin to surface. Flip the script and begin to reinforce their attitude at practices and competitions: effort, sacrifice, commitment, companionship, and perseverance are the basic pillars of sports education.
How did it go? Did you have fun? These should be the first questions that your child hears after a sports competition. In the end, whether or not they had fun should come before anything else.
Listen to your child. They are small athletes in training being molded by experiences and absorbing everything like sponges, full of energy and spunk. Look for a healthy environment where they can practice their sport, a positive coach that will motivate them to the best of their ability, and good friends. Talk to them about how they feel during practices, competitions, and games. Encourage them every day, bring them to the competitions that they want to participate in, and enjoy this beautiful time in their lives.
“Don’t let failure damage your self-esteem. When you win, the message of admiration is so confusing, it stimulates the love for oneself and that distorts so much. And when you lose the opposite is true, there is a morbid tendency of losing prestige, to offend you, just because you lost. You can win or lose in any task, the important thing is the journey, the dignity with which you traveled the path in the search of the objective. The other is a story to sell us a reality that is not true.” — Marcelo Bielsa