We, as social creatures crave for attention, compliments, validation, etc. and this is true for all ages, the needs may be different but everyone loves compliments. Kids require these things the most. They are in need of constant attention, they crave compliments, and seek validation from people they see as influential figures. These influential figures for all kids are first their parents, then their other family members. This need for attention and validation is more when children are competing in sports events. You might have observed that 10-12yrs old children are stressed about winning a local cricket or athletics tournament. It is not wrong to take something seriously, but it is wrong for a 10 yr old to be so stressed about a match, that they end up being sad.
A lot of this stress arises from the reasons you least expect. There is peer pressure, trying to outshine the rival team, ego, and a lot more things. These lot more things include the validation and attention from parents. The reasons will be like –
- Thinking that parents won’t like them or parents would be disappointed in them.
- Concluding that if they lose some sport event, friends will tease them.
- Having thoughts like ‘sports is a waste of time as I am not good at it’.
- ‘My parents will think I am a complete failure’
And many more such thoughts and reasons are there that will cause unwanted stress in children.
Now, you might wonder why children would be stressed about a sports event because of their parents. The answer is simple, kids consider their parents as the most influential figures and respect them the most. The majority of the time, we don’t notice it, but most parents say ‘I know you are going to win this’. This creates an impression on the kid that he needs to win the game because his parents are expecting him too.
This article is aimed to help you and your children cope with the daily stress they experience in sports. Here are a few tips which you can follow to promote a mentally healthy sports lifestyle for your kids:
In this article you'll learn about
1. Emotional Support
This point cannot be stressed enough. Children require a lot of emotional support and most of the time, only parents and grandparents can provide it. Yes, friends, coaches also provide emotional support, but it is nowhere near the support you can give as a parent.
Emotional support should be unconditional, no matter how they perform in their sports competitions. There should be no give and take situation for this, that’s the last thing you’d want.
Improvement over outcome
The focus of each parent should not be the outcome, but the focus should be on the process. For example, as a parent, you should not be just focused on the outcome, i.e. whether they are winning or losing. You should be more concerned about their improvement in the sport. You should always encourage them to get better at the sport.
When you keep telling your children to win, it creates unnecessary pressure on them. They start thinking, ‘I have to win no matter what, as my parents are expecting me to win’. Instead, if you start pushing them to improve at the sport, that’ll be very helpful.
Tips are great but let them be independent
Parents or siblings are the ones that teach a kid any sport at the beginning. As they grow old, they start understanding the sport better and better. It’s around the age of 8-9yrs they start developing their own strategies, no matter how flawed they are. Kids start thinking of ways and plan to outshine the opponent.
Occasional tips can really help boost their morale. It shows that parents are as interested in the sport as the kid. But continually telling them how to play, or how not to play, will be counterproductive.
The more you let them figure things out on their own, the better.
Stop putting unnecessary pressure
The modern academic curriculum is stressful as it is. Yes, the educational departments are working towards reducing this, bit by bit. But with the modern competition and requirements of the industries, there is a sudden change in the educational level at some or the other.
With all this stress, sports are a really great way for children to release all the tension. What children need during this period is motivation and not harsh words about how they have failed.
Parents should push their children to be better at the sport and not towards just winning the game.
Avoid analyzing their performance just after the game
Analyzing one’s performance after the game is a great thing to do. It helps the person understand the good parts and the bad parts of their performance. As important as analyzing is, doing it just after the game, is the worst idea. For example, when you start checking your answers for the exam you wrote right after coming out of the example, you get more stressed.
The same things happen with children. Though the results are already out, it might put them under stress. And, it’s a weird thing that we do, we always tell the bad things before the good things. In this context, the mistakes before the parts where they performed really well. This might create an impression in a kid’s mind that their parents only look at their mistakes.
Body language plays a very important role in understanding what the other person is thinking about you. It is even more effective than speech. You will understand a person is interested or not within seconds, from their body language. For example, you have just joined a new workspace along with a few other people. The company is having an ice-breaker session for new employees. While you are speaking you observe that a few are not paying attention to you, and others are listening to what you are saying. This can be determined by eye contact and body language.
Now, how is this related to the role of parents in sports? Whenever kids observe a negative body language from their parents, they know their parents aren’t interested. This will upset them for sure.
Another situation is on the field. If a child notices that their parent has a negative body language, or is verbally abusive as a means to take out their frustration, It will just show that they are not performing as per their parent’s expectations.
Kids need to be shown love and support when it comes to their athletic and sports journey. Positive criticism, motivation, support, validation, will work wonders. The above points cover the few tips which we felt were needed on the internet.
This article is not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings or point out some individual’s mistakes. It is purely based on general observation.
You can check out our other articles on sports here: