It’s no secret that confidence and mental toughness are vital to success in youth sports. In fact, even the most passionate of parents would probably agree with that conclusion. However, the problem is that many parents unknowingly destroy their child’s determination and courage with actions and words that may seem harmless, but are actually chipping away at their tenacity during youth sports. Are you guilty of any of these confidence-crushing behaviors?
- Do you emphasize failures and mistakes? It’s one thing for a young athlete to learn from mistakes; it’s another for parents to harp on them. Let your child be free to make mistakes, learn from it and then let them go.
- Do you insinuate that your child’s best is not enough? If your child can honestly say to you “I did my best,” then that is all you can ask for. An excellent effort is the goal, not perfection.
- Do you give up on your child? Believing in your child means that you gently push them to work harder and challenge him to improve in youth sports. Or you find someone who will, like CoachUp. If you do not give your child opportunity for growth, he may assume you don’t think he has the potential.
- Do you ask stupid questions? Why didn’t the coach put you in? What were you thinking when you made that turnover? When tempted to ask questions that are only venting your frustration, it’s best to bite your tongue.
- Do you tell your child she’s the best player on the team and doesn’t need to work hard? You may think that comment would boost confidence, and it may for a few minutes, but practice and working hard helps build confidence. If your child doesn’t feel the need for it because she’s “good enough,” then performance will sag, and eventually so will confidence during youth sports.
- Have you forgotten that youth sports is supposed to be fun? Remember that hard work and fun can co-exist in youth sports.
- Do you make comparisons? Don’t compare your child with siblings, opponents, or teammates. Look at each athlete as an individual, with her own strengths and contributions to the team.
- Do you stress winning and results? When personal stats or the scoreboard become more important than the process, your child’s confidence will wane every time he feels he doesn’t measure up.
- Do you brush off your child’s feelings? Not listening to your child or validating his feelings will chip away at his self-esteem. This doesn’t mean you let him cave to low emotions, no, instead, it means you help him identify them and learn to fight through them.
- Are you over-controlling? Do you feel the need to fix every situation for your child, to smooth the path for her at all times? Unfortunately, this is a confidence destroyer on so many levels. First off, it communicates that your child is not capable of handling situations without your interference. Secondly, it robs your child of the very thing that will make confidence grow: adversity!
These are tough questions to ask yourself. But you must if you truly want to see your child grow in confidence and reach her full potential in youth sports.