A Message To Parents
Watching your children not playing is so challenging. It can be harder on you than it is on them. Don’t make it worse by living below the surface through rage, back-stabbing the coach, talking negative about the training or other players, and even filling the house with bitterness.
Your words can be an even heavier burden. Disappointment is a fact of life but bitterness, shame and rage do not have to be. Work to help your son or daughter become a more powerful, healthy and mentally tough person. Teach them about values and how to deal with with disappointment. Not every coach is going to be fair and understand what is being fair. In fact most believe they are doing the right thing, they just know any other way. That’s life, the entire process is learning about what you believe to be right and/or wrong and learning to overcome it.
“Certainly, disappointment is not a pleasant emotion; it feels really bad, in fact. But that doesn’t mean it is a bad emotion to be avoided at all costs. To the contrary, disappointment is actually a healthy and positive emotion that plays an essential role in children’s emotional, intellectual, and social development. But only if-and it’s a big if-you and your children understand the real value of in helping them to achieve their goals.” – Jim Taylor, Ph.D.
Studies have shown that, how your children learn to respond to disappointment will determine its impact on their future achievement and happiness. You can teach your children to see stumbling blocks as opportunities to improve and grow. Offering your children a different perspective on their disappointment- “I know it feels horrible right now, but what can you learn from it?” – gives them tools they can use to avoid or minimise their disappointment in the future, and to turn the obstacles to their advantage by increasing resilience, motivation, and confidence. Make sure they don’t feel bad about themselves, teach them to use the experiences by showing them that they can conquer their past failures. Don’t show your disappointment as this will only double the burden and then they will realise they let you down. Disappointment is part of life and teaching your child how to react to it, is what matters most.
“Childhood disappointment is actually a practice lap on the course to adulthood. If you run interference whenever disappointment threatens, you’re setting kids up to run a marathon without ever letting them train for it,” Says, Allison Armstrong
People fail more in sport than any other field, you can tell them how common it is for young players to fail. This is part of the progress and a stepping stone to improvement. This is an opportunity to encourage them to keep working hard and for you to express your confidence in them by showing that you believe they will get better.
Here are some suggestions on how to respond to your children’s disappointments:
- Allow your children to feel disappointment about the setback, don’t suppress their emotions. These is their opportunity to express how they feel through words;
- Don’t put a “spin” on the situation to make your children feel better;
- Support your children, but don’t give them a consolation prize;
- Help your children find ways to overcome the causes of their disappointment;
- Tell your children that they will survive these disappointments and will achieve their goals if they keep trying hard;
- Teach them that life is one big lesson, it’s how you deal with disappointments that really matters;
- Finally, make sure they know you care for them regardless of their successes or failures. After all, it’s just a game.
- Let them know how much you LOVE watching them play.
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
There was a great story about a young boy who observed a butterfly unable to emerge from a cocoon. The butterfly appeared to be struggling and in pain. He rushed into the kitchen and brought out a scissors. He carefully snipped the cocoon open and the butterfly was free. But the butterfly’s wings where twisted. He later learned, the struggle and pain the butterfly must endure to emerge from the cocoon were necessary for it to fly. This story is so relative to how children learn, grow and deal with struggle and disappointment. Sometimes we just need to let them figure it out for themselves and not be so quick to propel them along.
Parents, take a deep breath and avoid the reactive impulse to rescue your children from disappointment, it could be the very thing they need to become the best they can be.
Disappointment can propel us to great heights if we deal with it well, keep working hard and you will over come them.
Sports Psychologist Dan Abrahams will be in Dublin on the 8th March, this will be a great opportunity for anybody involved in youth sports to listen to the power of positivity.
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