Guest post by Cindy Price
If you’ve attended any kind of youth games, you’ve probably met the kind of parents who give all sports parents a bad name. These parents simply personify a huge part of what’s wrong with our toxic youth sports culture.
Sports are meant to be fun for kids. Unfortunately, parents and coaches are guilty of piling so much pressure on kids to perform that they hardly enjoy participating in sports. Instead of focusing on the benefits their kids can derive from competitive sports e.g. teamwork and learning some valuable life skills, some parents get fixated on the results. They keep pushing their children to be the best, to continually win and beat out the competition, ignoring that this might have an adverse effect on their kids.
Putting Too Much Pressure on Kids Is Harmful
While placing high expectations on your children can be healthy, placing constant pressure on them can do more harm than good. When kids start believing that their performance at every baseball game determines their future, that pressure can lead to negative consequences including:
- Mental health issues. Kids who are under enormous pressure experience high levels of stress and anxiety linked to their performance. This places them at a higher risk of developing mental health issues such as depression.
- Problems with self-esteem. Constantly pushing kids to always excel in sports can mess up their self-esteem. They end up feeling like they’re not good enough, especially when they lose or post dismal performance.
- A higher risk of injuries. Kids normally don’t like disappointing their parents. This means that young athletes who are under pressure might ignore their injuries and continue participating in sports, leading to permanent damage.
- Refusal to participate in sports. Eventually, the stress and pressure of being told to always be the best takes away the fun of sports and most kids decide to drop out.
Lessen the Stress
Here are some tips on limiting the stress and pressure you place on your young athlete:
- Don’t impose your dreams on your child. As your child takes part in sports, constantly check to ensure that they’re pursuing their own goals, not yours. Don’t pile pressure on them as you try to relive your lost dream of a career in sports.
- Remind yourself why your kids take part in sports. While it’s good for kids to be rewarded with success and attention for their efforts, that shouldn’t be the main drive for participating in sports. They should be having fun playing and learning all the lessons sports can teach, including how to lose graciously.
- Get a grip on your emotions. Learn to control your emotions before, during, and after competitions to avoid sending the wrong message to your child. If you’re constantly nervous, anxious, or angry your kid will pick up on it and it will affect their performance and how they view sports in general.
- Turn the focus to something else. Kids can become so wrapped up in the sports they play that they start believing their value is tied up in their performance. This can be devastating for their self-esteem if they feel they’re not doing well. To counter this, encourage them to find other activities to participate in outside of sports. Having additional hobbies can help balance their perspective and give them something else to fall back on.
Kids and teens these days are already under so much pressure from school, their peers, and society that they don’t need anymore. Instead of pressuring them to keep posting stellar performance in sports, back off and let them simply have fun and enjoy the game.