Guest post by Emma Jones
As a parent, you always want what is best for your child and this even applies to them taking part in team sports. No parent wants to see their kid sit on the sidelines while their friends enjoy playing the game.
In my experience, children need a little push to get from the sideline to becoming a regular starter in their chosen sport. But there is a fine balance, some parents are too pushy while others are too laid back. In this post, I will share with you my experience on how to constructively push your child into sports without being overbearing.
When your child doesn’t give their all it can be frustrating and as a parent, it’s up to you to find out why, and how you can help. When I was younger, I was “forced” by my parents to play the piano and I did it for 7+ years, but the truth is I never really enjoyed it, and I only played because I knew it made my parents happy. I got to play in front of live audiences and I never once enjoyed it. As a parent, I feel it’s important to encourage your child to take part for the right reasons, otherwise, you should find something else that your child will enjoy.
Tip 1 - Find your child's motivation
To encourage your child to participate in team sports, you need to first find out what they enjoy most about that sport. In baseball, it could be they love hanging out with their friends and having fun, or it could be that they love to win, and some children love learning new skills through sports.
To find your child’s motivation for taking part in a sport you could ask them questions after practice or after a game such as, “Did you enjoy the game?”, “Did you win?”, or “Did you learn anything today?”, and the question to which they give a more detailed answer is generally the motivation to why they are playing. As a parent, you need to listen carefully. If your child doesn’t seem too bothered about winning but won’t stop talking about how they performed an action which helped their team in some way, then it could be that he or she is more interested in developing skills than actually winning the game.
With your new-found knowledge, you could then talk to the coaches about getting them to work on your child’s new skills in practice.
Tip 2 - Performance-based rewards
As a child, I used to play a lot of soccer. My brothers and sisters used to play baseball, football, and hockey, so as you can imagine our parents would have to spend a bit of money on new cleats or equipment every year. As a soccer player, cleats can cost $150+ so they’re not cheap, but what my parents used to do was leave me in last seasons cleats until I scored a certain number of goals in the new season. This would keep me motivated as the new soccer cleats worn by David Beckham were must-haves for every teenager.
By the way, if you’re a parent with a few children and you’re fed up with your house looking cluttered in the off-season, a small tip for you would be to purchase a self storage container. Not only will it keep your home looking cleaner, but it also keeps all the equipment in the same place so there are no more tears when a hockey stick can’t be found.,
Tip 3 - Build their confidence with practice
On many occasions, children lose motivation because they feel they can’t do something. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest blocks to any child participating in sports.
Your child will have to put in a lot of practice and have a good work ethic before their confidence rises, but that’s okay. Practice can be fun, especially if you take part in it. Your child will more than likely forget they’re even practicing at all and will see the opportunity as a bonding session.
When your child’s motivation drops, remind him how he felt when he made a really good play or when they won a tough game.
Tip 4 - Praise them
Not every kid will be a super athlete and it’s important to remember that. Pushing your kids too much will set them up for disappointment. Many of my friends at school were on track to be professional athletes only for injury to ruin their careers in seconds.
Not turning pro isn’t the end of the world. For many, sports is the only way out of some dire situations but the truth is, becoming a professional athlete is a rare occurrence and sports can give your children much more than the hope of turning pro.
By praising your child to participate in sports, even if they make a mistake it shows them that mistakes can be overcome, and most challenges can be worked through. Sports, in my opinion, is the best way to set your children up in life. It teaches them teamwork, humility, hard work, mental and physical strength, and so much more. Just a few words of encouragement here or there can help keep your child participating in sports, and in doing so they will reap the rewards for the rest of their lives.