As children play sports, adversity will come. Difficulties with teammates, coaches, opponents and frustrations with themselves will bring challenges. But adversity can be the fuel that produces growth and strength in these children – if they deal it properly.
There are a number of ways that athletes and parents face hard times. They either ignore it and pretend it’s not a big deal, blow up and take it out on each other, self-medicate to ease the stress or they come together to talk, support one another and learn from the situation.
The first three options are common, but they won’t help your child grow up emotionally healthy and be ready to take on the difficulties that they’ll inevitably face. If you support your young athletes learning on their own, here are some simple steps you can take:
Use Your Compass
If you’ve taken the time to establish core values in your home, you’ve given your kids a compass. When tough times hit, go back to those values and apply them to this circumstance.
For instance, let’s say that your child is having a hard season in sports. They’re not getting the playing time they want, and this frustrates both of you. This is a tough season for the parent and athlete, but this is also where your core values can help.
One core value in your home probably aligns with “seeking to understand.” If so, you could apply that to this situation. Seek to understand the coach’s reasoning for playing time, what your child needs to work on to earn more and how important your child is to the team regardless.
Core values serve as a compass to guide the thinking of you and your child through hard times. I suggest that your family comes up with several core values that will provide that compass for you and your child.
It’s easy for families to shut down and avoid talking about difficult things because it’s too hard, but this is when it’s important for parents to be intentional about communicating.
Good communication starts with active listening. Put down the distractions, look your child in the eyes, read their body language and listen to what they’re saying. Listen without judgment if you want them to keep talking and only insert your guidance and parental wisdom when appropriate.
Good communication also includes parents asking themselves good questions: What does my child need to learn from this experience? What is the best way for me to help them learn it?
Build a Good Team
Even if you are an awesome parent, it’s hard to go at it alone. Build a team of people who can support your family’s core values and have a positive influence in your child’s life. Look for teachers, coaches and mentors that will echo your core values to your child.
Focus on Others
If you are in the midst of a hard season, the thought of focusing on others may seem counter-productive. Shouldn’t you instead be focusing on your own child?
Well, yes and no. You must put your family first and deal with the issues that you are facing, but taking time to focus on others in the midst of the difficulty can actually be part of your healing. Look for opportunities for your kids to get their minds off their own problems by helping others.
Raising Confident Kids
Children raised in a home where the family faces tough times together and learns to overcome difficulties will be more likely to grow up confident. Why? They’ve learned that hard times and inconveniences do not have to defeat them and they’re more resilient because they’ve learned how to overcome.
Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.