Parent Cheerleaders!

As a parent, it’s hard to try to encourage our kids in sports and not have some expectations of our own. And we all have them — maybe it’s because you were a star athlete back in the day, or maybe it’s because, no matter how hard you tried, practiced and trained, you weren’t. Whatever the reason, our kids can pick up some negative vibes from these expectations. Mom’s Team has some great tips for parents on ways to avoid getting caught playing the expectation game and to support your kids in sports in positive and constructive ways:

1. Define core family values

Defining family values may be as straightforward as communicating to your child that sport reflects life, and that maintaining core family values while playing sports is essential.  For example, integrity, resilience, teamwork, kindness and commitment are some core values that may already be reinforced in your family culture. What are your top five family values for sports?

2. Facilitate happiness

Be the facilitator in the process of helping your child find happiness in their sports life. Emphasize that success is their performance, not the outcome of the game. By concentrating on the process, you will avoid putting extra pressure on or setting high expectations for your child. The more your child is striving for the pursuit of excellence and letting go of the pursuit of perfection, the more satisfied they will be with their performance; they will have more positive energy and a better emotional mindset, and by letting go of the fear of failure, will be better able to actualize their full potential as athletes.

3. Instill confidence

Confidence comes from the ability to have faith and belief in one’s self.  Confidence is entirely different from being cocky. It is not an oxymoron for an athlete to be humbly confident.  An athlete can be confident and display humility at the same time.

Youth athletes are constantly being challenged and learning new skills, so being confident may not be as easy as it sounds.  As your child matures, they will learn to develop confidence on their own, but before they internalize a sense of confidence, you can help instill confidence by offering them consistent, positive reinforcement. How?  It may be as simple as letting them know that you believe in them.

4. Encourage passion and a healthy, competitive mindset

A goal and a plan have to be coupled with desire. Let your child know that it is okay to be competitive and passionate about a game or activity that they love. Embrace and encourage passion by reviewing what it means to have a healthy, competitive mindset. Sit down with your child and set both short-term and long-term goals. Let your child experience his or her own competitiveness – the desire and the passion to obtain something.  You can help them become confident by guiding them in the process of discovering what they want. If your child can’t find their desire and their passion, they won’t be able to set the goals they need to succeed in sports

5. Cultivate a positive family culture

Provide positive reinforcement by recalling for your child a good strategic move they made in a game or how they have improved a particular skill.  Remind them that competitiveness is not just about winning; it’s about passion and confidence. Competitiveness is the fire inside of your child, the spark that fosters creativity, artistry, persistence and the desire to improve.

A healthy, competitive perspective is a passion and confidence for excelling, exceeding, growing and achieving. It is the drive within to be stronger, better and more confident. As parents,  you want your children to be happy and to bring out their very best.  You can help by reinforcing what is “right” about your children on the athletic field.  By doing so, you will be raising them to be successful and happy individuals who will exercise freedom and understand responsibility and expectations, not only in sports but in life.

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