6 Tips to Help Your Child Succeed Through Sports
Coaching basketball over the last 25 years, I have witnessed quite a few parents mistakenly view their parenting success based on their child’s sports success. It was hard for me to understand why parents would compete with each other over the sports accomplishments of their children. It didn’t make any sense to me how their pride and ego could cause them to act foolish and make poor decisions for their children.
I would visit with some parents about it and they would respond back saying, “What till you have children of your own.” In my mind I believed that I would be different than the other parents. Well, God has blessed me with 2 wonderful boys, Kaden (6 years old) and Grayson (3 years old). At this time, they are both too young to be playing competitive sports. But, I will tell you I now understand the desire to have your children succeed in an activity and through it being looked at as a successful parent.
Unfortunately, as parents, we often invest in short-term happiness at the expense of long-term growth. For example, when we help our children avoid childhood discomforts now, we keep them from developing skills needed to handle future pain or suffering. Instead, we need to teach the coping skills and resilience necessary to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks.
My prospective got back on track after reading this quote:
“YOUR KID’S SUCCESS OR LACK OF SUCCESS IN SPORTS DOES NOT INDICATE WHAT KIND OF PARENT YOU ARE. BUT HAVING AN ATHLETE THAT IS COACHABLE, RESPECTFUL, A GREAT TEAMMATE, MENTALLY TOUGH, RESILIENT AND WHO TRIES THEIR BEST IS A DIRECT REFLECTION OF YOUR PARENTING.” (Unknown)
This is why I coach! To make kid’s better on and off the court through the sport of basketball. The sport is the carrot to teach life skills and character traits that will allow them to handle whatever life throws at them and still succeed. This reinforced that I need to take that same coaching approach and use it as a parent to help my children learn invaluable lessons through sports that will prepare them for life. As a parent, I can’t get wrapped up on what team they are on, their statistics, their awards and trophies to view my success. I need to stay laser focused on allowing the sports to be a great teacher to instill positive habits that will be beneficial throughout their lives.
Here are six ways that you as a parent can create a positive sports experience for your child, that he/she will learn positive character traits and life skills to last a lifetime.
1. Let It Be Your Child’s Experience: In order to do so, we must acknowledge that we can’t control the experience of our child…that is why it is called an experience. When we experience something we will have good times and bad times, great moments and average plays, we will deal with victory and defeat…allow your child to experience these highs and lows in sport which will allow them to deal with the ups and downs of life…If we try to control the experience our child is not being prepared for life.
2. Focus on The Process: Sports like life are a process and we need to attack the process every day to grow and get better. The process is hard work, knowledge, attitude, perspective, teamwork, coachability, dealing with success and failure. Winning will only be the by product in sports and in life.
3. Encourage Your Child to Take Responsibility: Teach your child early on not to pass the blame or make excuses, but to take responsibility for their actions.
4. Let Your Child Solve Their Own Problems: There is much to be gained in learning how to solve problems as there is in solving the problems themselves. Your child should know that you're always there for them, and that they can call on you when needed, but give them the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems.
5. Allow Them to Learn Through Consequences: Sometimes the best thing that can happen is to make a big mistake and live with the consequences. However, it's often the case that the mistakes we make as children have fewer long-range effects than things we screw up when we get older. So, it is better to learn from smaller mistakes while we're young.
6. Embrace and Understand That Failure is Inevitable: Failure is a prerequisite to success. Nobody accomplishes anything great if he or she is afraid to fail. In failure, children learn how to struggle with adversity and how to confront fear. By reflecting on failure, children begin to see how to correct themselves and then try again with better results.
I know it can be tough to look at the long range goals when you get wrapped up in the emotions of your child. But we need to not lose sight on the need to engrain the positive character traits and life skills that will enable your child to successfully navigate through life on their own as they get old enough to leave your home. That is the mindset you need to develop on how you view success as a parent. The value is not in the medals and trophies that will collect dust and eventually be thrown out or left behind. The ultimate value is “WHO WE BECOME THROUGH THE SPORT!”