4 Guidelines to Being a Winning Parent

As a parent of a child or adolescent that plays sports, your role is critical to your child having a healthy attitude towards sports and to leave them feeling good about themselves at the end of the day. Obviously coaches play an important role as well, but a positively involved parent taking the correct steps to encourage their children is linked to higher self-esteem, learning the sport faster, better performance and a true love of the sport they are involved in.  We’ve put together a brief list of steps, tips and strategies to help you become or be a better ‘winning’ parent. Your kids can’t do it without you!

  1.Encourage your child to be in competition with themselves.

When we think sports, we think we’re competing against each other, however, the focus needs to be on competing against ourselves.  This is what we need to instill into our children. The fundamental goal of the whole sports experiences lies not in beating others, but in challenging oneself and regularly improving. Judging our child’s improvement on whether they won or lost is not only inaccurate but also unfair. Focusing on self-improvement and competing with themselves as opposed to others will allow your child to have more fun, perform better and be more relaxed.

  2. Build up Self-Esteem in ALL interaction.

Self-esteem is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child, a gift that will surely last a lifetime. Self-esteem is built through a series of positive interactions with your child that allow them to feel good about themselves, this is how self-esteem is created. When your child’s self-esteem is developed in an athletic environment it will enable them to enjoy themselves more, have a better performance under pressure and they will even learn faster. In situations where their performance wasn’t its best, be sensitive and show empathy to their feelings, if you embarrass or humiliate them, they will learn to do this with themselves and pass it on.  Let’s help our children pass on positive, healthy, self-esteem boosting skills in their own lives, to their friends and eventually their children.

  3.Recognize Developmental Difference and Avoid Comparisons

Each child reaches developmental milestones at different stages, two children may be the same age (11 for example) or close in age, one child may perform like a 15-year-old and the other child may be a late developer and perform like a 9-year-old. Both circumstances are perfect, and exactly where you child is supposed to be. Comparing your child’s level of skill against another child’s level of skill is not only inaccurate but can also be quite destructive. The only acceptable time to compare two children is if one of them is demonstrating the “proper technique/form” and is being used as an example to show the other child. By comparing your child to others, what you are actually accomplishing is causing them to over analyze their level of skill compared to someone else, taking their focus off the game and prohibiting them from playing their ‘best’.

  4.Be a Supportive Parent not a Coach

As a parent, you have the most important role in the development of your child’s life skills.  You are the in-trust CEO of your child’s company until they turn 18 years old (sometimes longer).  Just like any other business, people have certain roles to help meet the goals of a company.   These people can be a pastor, a mentor, a psychologist, a teacher, a friend, a team mate and a coach.  We’ll stick with coaching since it is relevant to this article. 

Let the coach be the coach and you be the Supportive parent with a capital “S”.  Provide encouragement, empathy, transportation, money, help with fund raisers, etc. but resist the urge to be their coach.  The last thing your child wants to hear after a disappointing performance or loss is what they did wrong.  Teach them perspective, don’t let them come away from a competition with a distorted view of themselves or how they played.  Help them develop realistic expectations of themselves, their skill level and their abilities without crushing their dreams.  Be there for your child and it will be a much more positive experience for both of you.

In closing, these are just a few of the many, many tips and strategies to being a winning parent and helping your child succeed in sports. Four main points to remember are: encourage your child to compete against themselves, build self-esteem, avoid comparisons and lastly, be the best parent that you can be. These tips will get you headed in the right direction.

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