As a parent, it can sometimes be really difficult to separate your expectations as an adult from the expectations that you should have for your kids. Have you ever found yourself yelling at a referee at an elementary school soccer game? Yup. We all have, it’s not just you. Being mom and dad doesn’t mean you need to be perfect, but it’s always good to keep expectations for your kids in perspective. Allowing children to enjoy sports while still having a competitive edge is a very thin like, but here are a few psychological tricks you can use to help keep your kids into the game.
1. Quiet down! Your child will always hear your voice over all other voices and they will look to you to set an example. If you find that you get a little loud or maybe feel out of control, take a step back and remember that your child is looking at you to set the example.
2. Teach your kid to trust the process. Is the entire free world going to fall crashing to the ground if they miss a kick on a goal or don’t finish a race? Nope. Not at all. Sometimes it’s more important to be part of a team and perfect skills rather than making every point in a game.
3. Analyze what you say, BEFORE you say it. Telling a child they ‘should’ or ‘need to’ win is interpreted much differently than saying you ‘can’ win. Kids internalize words differently than adults tend to. Giving kids the confidence to know that whatever the outcome of the race or game is in their hands instead of pushing your expectations on your children will help them gain confidence and squash some of the fear of letting others down.
All in all, don’t expect to be a perfect parent, and don’t expect your child-athlete to be perfect either- but practice certainly helps!