Many experts talk about the dangers of pushing your children in sport. Some parents see that advice as separating themselves from their child’s sport experience, others a reason to stay far away.
All parents want the best for the young athlete.
There is not one parent sitting back thinking, “How can I make my child be miserable playing sports?”
Are pushing your child to succeed and fostering independence in your child mutually exclusive?
The key to optimizing your child’s experience in sports is balance or knowing when to push and knowing when to give them the space needed to figure things out on their own.
Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki wrote a compelling article entitled, “Letter to My Younger Self,” in The Player’s Tribune where she reflects back to the impact her father had on her present tennis career.
Wozniacki tells her younger self something every parent should utilize as a guideline for parenting their younger players…
There is a balance between pushing your child to excel and support them to achieve THEIR GOALS.
WOZNIACKI: “’Caroline,’ he [her father] will say, ‘I can do whatever you need from me to help you get better at tennis. I will take you wherever you need to go, and make sure you have every opportunity to excel. But I have to know, for certain, that’s what you want. You have to be sure. The moment I’m dragging you to the court, or pestering you to get up early for practice, everything changes. You have to understand that. But, if this is what you want, I will give you my all.’”
Fostering independence, self-esteem, confidence, hard work and achievement can be a delicate balance at times but it is critical if you want your child to excel in sports and learn lessons that they can apply to life outside of sport.
How can you push your child without being detrimental to their growth as an athlete and a person?
- Support your child unconditionally despite wins or losses.
- Be patient and teach your child to be patient. Understand there will be ups and downs during your child’s sports experience. Remember, your reactions teach your child how they should respond to circumstances.
- Help your child set realistic goals. What you want for your child may not be what they want for themselves.
- Redefine success. Instead of seeing losses as failures, extract the lesson on how you can play better in the future.
- Encourage your child to take risks without fearing your wrath afterwards.
- Refrain from constant criticism. Your child probably knows what they did wrong after a bad match.
- Teach your child to take personal responsibility for their training and performance. Give them a sense of autonomy while simultaneously encouraging their efforts.
- Refrain from comparing your child to others. This only serves to send the message that your child is not good enough. Instead, promote the mentality to be better today than you were yesterday.
Tardio Tips: Effectively pushing your child to succeed
- Establish and maintain open lines of communication – This is the first step in understanding where both of you stand. Let your child know your expectations (max effort, sportsmanship, listening to coach, focusing in practice, never giving up).
- Ask your child how you can help them achieve their sports goals. Together, you and your child can optimize their experience in their sport.
To read more: Mindset of a Rising Champion…Ready to Up Your Game?
For a free 15-minute consultation: Free 15-Minute Mental Coaching Session