Good sports parenting is really just a series of habits based on a mindset that what you are doing is not an event, a strategy or a solution. It’s a process of many habits, many conversations, many ups and down, many mistakes and many lessons learned as your child progresses on their sports journey.
Try on these good sports parenting habits; they will not guarantee that your kids won’t make mistakes or that they will always be successful, but they will help you rest in the fact that you’ve been a “good parent” and have thoroughly invested in your kids.
Giving your child core values will give them something to turn to for making decisions. It will give your kids a compass when you’re not around to guide them.
Silliness is the secret ingredient in a happy family. Even if you’re naturally a “silly” person, you can choose to let your hair down and let yourself laugh. Help your child find something to laugh about as they progress in their sports journey.
Many parents get caught up in the endeavor to change their child’s behavior, and that may work–temporarily. But if you really want to change your child’s behavior for the long term, you must focus on parenting their heart. What’s the reason for the behavior? What values do they need to learn to know how to change their own behavior? This definitely translates to their sports endeavors too.
Parents are really good at speaking, at trying to fix their children with their words, at using their words to attempt to control and manipulate behavior. Of course, there is a time to speak, but more often than that, there is a time to listen, really listen, to what your kids are saying and what they’re not saying. This may require you to work on the skill of biting your tongue.
Good questions go hand-in-hand with good listening. I’m not talking about interrogating your kids, I’m talking about asking open-ended questions that give your child room to express their thoughts and push them to think out loud. These kinds of questions don’t have one-word answers. When they face frustrations in sports, it’s time to ask and listen.
Focus on Your Own Heart
Pay attention to your own values as a sports parent and how you are living them out. This will impact your young athlete greater than you may think. Think about who you are and what you are trying to become. You can’t raise kids with good hearts if you are not working on your own.
The difference between responding and reacting is anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes or even an hour. Taking the time to respond, rather than react allows you to think through what’s most important for your child to learn and how you can help.
So, you make mistakes, lose your temper, forget something important–you’re human! Don’t beat yourself up. Good parents understand that mistakes are part of growing.
When you do make mistakes, it’s important that you do more than acknowledge them. Take a few minutes to think about what you learned from the error–what you did wrong, and what you could do better next time.
It’s easy for busy parents to get caught up in the chaos of life and neglect to see the treasures in each day. Your child’s laughter, their joy at an accomplishment, an encouraging word from a friend and your child’s hug–these are the things that are most precious in life. Don’t neglect the daily treasures that come each day.
Your quest should not just be to be seen as good parents or to have perfectly behaved kids. It’s to raise kids with good hearts that will make a positive impact in their world. These habits I’ve listed are more than just 10 things on a to-do list; they will lead you to a mindset shift in your sports parenting that will make a difference in who your kids become.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more atrcfamilies.com.