You don’t need to be athletic to be involved in your child’s sport. You don’t even need to give them advice on how to be a better athlete to show them you support them. You just need to be a parent who loves them, loves how much they love playing, and loves to watch them play.
There are a number of reasons why children eventually quit sports. Kids say that they no longer want to play because it just isn’t fun anymore either because they had found something they enjoyed more or they felt too pressured to perform.
As parents, we know all the benefits that sports can have on our children’s physical, emotional, and social development. We want to encourage our kids to play sports for as long as they can while avoiding the expectation game that usually ruins the whole experience for our young athletes.
Here are 5 tips for supportive parents who want to be more encouraging of their young athletes:
1. Make the sport fun for them
The more fun you child is having, the more they learn and ultimately, the better they will perform. When they stop having fun, they start dreading practice and games.
When you start to suspect that your child is no longer having fun, you should investigate. If it is the coach, talk to the coach. If they are struggling with anything at all, help them resolve it so they can get back to the game they love.
2. Don’t coach
Remember, you are the parent. You are not their coach and should not be assuming the position. If anything, you are more your child’s personal cheering squad than their coach. Kids hold their coaches to a different level of respect. Having more than one authority figure setting expectations and telling them how to hone their athletic skills will only confuse them.
3. Set healthy expectations
One of the things that sucks the fun out of sports for kids is the pressure they feel from parents that have unhealthy expectations for them.
This is particularly the case for younger children who will lose interest once a sport starts to feel like a chore rather than a game. Set healthy goals for your kids; ones that they can easily achieve that are measurable. These will give them a boost of confidence when they achieve them and keep them playing for longer, happier.
4. Regardless of their performance, don’t stop cheering them on
Don’t challenge them with threats. Remember that guilt is not a good motivator. They’ll perform for you now and may resent you for it later for taking the fun out of the sport.
Let’s face it; not all kids are star athletes. Not everyone’s kids are going to steal the ball, hit the home run, or make the touchdown. Your child may miss a shot, strike out, fumble, or fail to catch the ball at some point. Don’t stop cheering them on. Tell them it is ok. There’s no better motivator for kids than knowing that someone is watching who believes in them.
5. Teach them how to handle failure
In life and sports, people who learn how to handle rejection and failure become the most resilient, successful and altogether, happy. When you teach your child that it is ok to fail, they will be more willing to take risks regardless of the potential of failure. And whether they fly or fail, they learn valuable life lessons and most importantly, they know you’ve got their back no matter what.