Wednesday, January 24, 2018

When Supportive Parents Become Pressure Points

December 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Pick My Brain

There are few sports where the support of a parent isn’t vital to the success of an athlete. Although most parents feel they are doing what is best for their child (who knows them better than you do?), they can sometimes be sending some mixed messages. What you perceive as positive criticism or a healthy reminder may be interpreted by your child as, “ I am not good enough or capable of doing this myself”. What is a parent to do?

Let’s begin by considering why your child is involved in sports. I believe the primary value of sports is the opportunity for self-development and growth. You learn so much by being an athlete. Discipline, time management, dedication, sportsmanship, work ethic and social skills are among a few of the qualities you will develop at an early age. There are so many lessons to be learned and life experiences to be had.

It is important to remember that the focus needs to be on the performance itself or the game being played. The emphasis needs to be on the mastery of the sport not on outcome. The outcome cannot be controlled but the process can.

To be a supportive parent there are a few things you can keep in mind:

  • Avoid making the outcome bigger than life. Keep each event in perspective and look at the bigger picture. Enjoy the process.
  • Athletes take big risks when they put their skills to the test during a competition or performance. Avoid adding pressure by punishing or withdrawing love based on a result.
  • Always look for the positive in any situation. Was the athlete successful today or did they learn something to make them that much stronger in the future?
  • Define your role as a parent versus a coach. You need to follow the instructions given to you by the coach but it is your job to show unconditional love and empathy for your child.
  • Always avoid comparisons. Focus on your child and the steps they are taking to improve.
  • Be sure that your athlete is involved in the sport because he/she loves it and not to please one or both parents.

I think it is important to expose your child to many different activities and to let them find the one that brings them the most pleasure and satisfaction. Listen to your athlete and give them the emotional support they need. It is often beneficial to employee a professionally trained mental skills coach to ensure that everyone is on the same team and fulfilling their individual roles successfully.

“Ideally, sports should build your child’s confidence and self esteem and teach them lessons that they can use for the rest of their lives,” says Nicolette House, a professionally trained coach specializing in athletics.

“It’s important that they have fun along the way and are able to keep things in perspective as they work towards their goals,” says House.

Here’s to all the incredible parents that have been there for all the right reasons and who sat back quietly and nervously watching their athletes fulfill their dreams no matter how large or small.


Contributor: Ilona Horvath

For more information regarding coaching, click here.

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