The psychological wins and losses in competitive sports are pressure enough. But, are you, as a parent, supporting your child? Or transferring your desires onto them, causing them to feel stress and disappointment?
- Are you the dad who is insulting the ref who made a bad call?
Participation in sports is an invaluable part of many children's lives. Some participate in traditional team sports such as soccer, football, lacrosse, hockey, volleyball or baseball. Others take part in more individualized sports such as tennis, track, bowling and horseback riding while still being part of a team.
Regardless of the type of sport, there are so many lessons to be learned. "Life Long Learnables" (to quote my friend Bob Ditter) from sports include lessons that are not learned in the classroom and often last a lifetime.
So, before we get too deep into parents behavior on the field, let's take a look at these Life Long Learnables:
- Sportsmanship is knowing how to be a good winner, loser and how to handle everything in between. It means knowing that sometimes the referee or the judge might favor the other team or another competitor, but that on another day, things may go more in your favor. It means being able to handle a rain delay and lending your fiercest competitor an extra jersey if she forgot hers.
So, when you think about how you as a parent act on the bleachers or sidelines, are you helping your children to focus on these five life-long learnables, or are you interfering?
If your child is worried about whether you are going to lose your temper in the stands, insult the ref, or interfere with the coach doing his or her job, you are distracting your child from being fully present on the field.
When parents act childishly on the sidelines, kids feel embarrassed, even if they don't share how they are feeling. And, both your child and his or her peers will have their eyes and ears more on you making a scene than on the field where they should be focused.
You cannot give or praise your children into having good self-esteem. You can, however, support them in a loving, positive way while they find their own path to those good feelings about their own abilities and character.
Think about it: How can parents possibly teach their children about good sportsmanship if they cannot control their own tempers?
When your child's team loses or has a bad day, please keep the following in mind:
- Sportsmanship: It is definitely way more fun to win than to lose, but if we model how to lose gracefully, we can show kids how it is done. Teach them how to win and lose gracefully and how to learn from the losses. Maybe they were just outplayed, but maybe they were dehydrated, unfocused, hadn't practiced a certain play enough. See if your child wants to talk about what happened and if he or she can think of what they would like to do differently the next time they play. Everyone knows that kids are much more likely to do what we do, not what we say. So, walk the walk instead of just talking the talk and see what happens in your family! We want kids to learn the fun of the game and playing as much as the thrill of victory -- right? Make sure you offer appropriate behavior for your child to model and don't get yourself a pink or red card in the stands!
If you keep these tips in mind and keep a handle on your own behavior everyone wins!
Have a learnable you think needs to be added? Share it in the comments below. It may help someone else.