Parents sometimes get carried away. I know you want your kid to play well and be the best. There is nothing wrong with that, but improvement will happen on their time, not yours. Your reactions, obsessions, stress, and criticism can produce unwanted feelings in your child. And these feelings can push them away from enjoying their sport. However, your feedback is essential. Your job, as a parent, is to show your child how to have fun playing, whether winning or losing. Kids want to have fun, so let it be. Just make sure it is in a safe environment for them. When watching your child play, keep these things in mind.
Confidence is Key
When you let your child have fun, it produces confidence. Confidence is essential in sports and life because it helps your kid play better. And when they are confident, they are more willing to learn and develop their skills. As Joe Namath, ex-San Francisco 49ners quarterback, said, “When you have confidence, you can have fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.”
Losing is OK
Boris Beck said, “I love the winning. I can take the losing. But most of all, I love to play”. Wanting to win is ok; there is nothing wrong with that. It is the obsession to win, and the emotional disruption of losing that eliminates the fun for your child. Losing is ok as well. Your child needs to know how to lose and learn from their losses, not lose the love of the sport. Loving to play and having fun are the most important things because they lead to be better, optimism and improvement. What you love is never work, and you are willing to put all your energy in to develop yourself more. You need to help your child understand this so they can have fun even when they lose.
Listen to your child and respect their choices. Doing this makes them feel good and excited because they construct their fun, not be told what and how to play. As a result, they begin to comprehend what they like and dislike, which helps them understand themselves and sport better. When they know their sport better, they want to play and learn more.
Be a Cheerleader
No matter win or lose, praise your child’s efforts. When you applaud their efforts, it takes the stress off of them. They will learn that winning or losing does not matter, and they can understand and enjoy “the fun of playing.” If you criticize them for not winning or playing poorly, it takes the pleasure out of the game. They will feel stress and pressure, and that is what they will understand and not look forward to games every weekend.
Lead by Example
You are the role model, and what you say will keep them stimulated and engaged, or not. Instead, praise your child for their effort regardless of the outcome. Praising them helps your child understand their feelings. When kids can identify with their feelings of sadness, frustration, or disappointment, you can help them know it is just a game and ask, Did you have fun playing?
Be a good sport and model good sportsmanship. Children learn by watching you. They learn by observing your behavior at the game, during the game, and after the game. Your child understands behavior more than you think. Therefore, cheer for other children on the team, not just your child. Give encouraging positive words to all players on the team. Learn to applaud the other team’s good plays and efforts. And, let your child know it is essential to shake hands after the game no matter the result. These actions will show them that sport and playing are about fun.
Don’t interfere. Try not to take the game so seriously. Don’t obsess over who is winning or losing or playing good or bad. Just let your kid play and have fun. That is what childhood is about, remember?
Be Helpful, Not Critical
Don’t compare or critique your child. When you do this, it makes them feel like they did something wrong. And if they feel like they did something wrong, it makes them nervous, and they will associate stress and nervousness with the sport, and the sport will lose its fun. All children have different styles and abilities of learning. There is no need to compare them to other children or yourself when you were a child. The positive, optimistic way is the best. There is no pressure, no stress, and your child will enjoy running around on the field.
Don’t pressure your child to perform. Pressuring your child makes them nervous, takes away the fun, and leads to mistakes. And when they are anxious, it causes more errors. When your child is having fun, it will help them discover new skills and improve their performance without knowing if they made a mistake or not.
The last thing you need to do is ruin the game and their love and enjoyment of the sport. Use fun to your advantage because your child is receptive to learning when excited and having fun. If you add pressure, stress, worry, criticism, or obsession, your child will disengage. Think about the boss breathing down your neck. It stresses you. Now, imagine your child; they don’t have the emotional maturity yet to understand the stress and take it personally. Taking it to heart disrupts them mentally and physically.
So, could you sit back, relax and let it flow? Just let yourself go and teach the same to your child.