There are good times to talk with your son or daughter about the game or practice, and there are bad times. The ride home from a game or a practice is a bad time.
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Worth repeating: The worst time to “discuss” your kid’s athletic performance is on the ride home. You want to talk so badly it’s like acid in your mouth. You think your child needs to know what you think. You have great points to make, and your son 0r daughter can learn how to improve. All true, but you simply should not share your thoughts on the ride home.
Even if you commend and don’t criticize, you may get in the habit of making the ride the time and place to discuss. Your kids are trapped in the back seat and forced to listen.
When athletes play poorly, the last thing they want to hear is someone trying to make them feel better. It doesn’t help build their mental toughness, because they need to feel the pain of not getting what they want.
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Sports Parent Strategy: The Talk
The best time to discuss the game or practice is at an agreed-upon time. This might be after dinner or after cleaning up—whenever you agree as a family. Your son or daughter will appreciate the time to decompress and won’t dread the car ride home like their friends, who get grilled every time.
Much can be accomplished after everyone is cool, calm, and collected, especially after your child has calmed down and has had time to process.
Resist the urge to talk more and just listen. Allow your son or daughter to tell you what he or she did well, vent about their mistakes and relate what they learned. Kids take more ownership when they do the talking.
Finally, as Auburn’s head swim coach Brett Hawke says, “catch them doing it right!”