Are you fully investing yourself in your child’s youth sports experience?
As sports parents, it’s easy to coast through youth sports. Go to the games, volunteer your time, write the checks–yes you are enjoying the experience of kids playing sports, but at the same time, you might be missing out on some very valuable opportunities to help your kids grow up.
Perhaps it might help to see kids playing sports as an investment opportunity. Not necessarily a monetary investment–because the Return On Investment of thousands of dollars spent over the course of a child’s youth sports career rarely pays off in a full college scholarship–but an emotional investment that has a huge Return On Investment in your child’s character growth.
Listen to Your Kids
Seems pretty simple, but parents often tune out kids because they are so busy with their own work, or because they are tired of what they are hearing. Listening to your kids is one of the best ways to show them you love them and are interested in them.
And then take it a step further. Listen to them when they aren’t talking to you. This is one of the reasons I always got involved with my kids playing sports and volunteered to drive kids to games and tournaments. I loved listening to the car conversations. I loved hearing to my kids interact with their peers.
The investment of listening pays huge dividends: your kids are more likely to talk to you if they know you truly listen and you will know your kids better when you really listen.
Listening also helps you understand what your child really needs. Does he need some positive reinforcement because he’s not sure of his ability? Does she need assurance that her hard work will pay off? Does he need to know that his parents will love him no matter how he plays?
Mom and Dad, listen to your kids. Listen to what your child is and is not saying. Listening is an investment of time and emotional energy that always pays off.
Love Your Kids With No Strings Attached
Listening to your kids is the input side of the investment coin. Loving your kids unconditionally is the output side to that coin.
Most parents don’t intend to convey a conditional sort of love to their kids, but when they are pushy, critical after games, and even go so far as to be angry at their kids for the way they played, they are saying very loudly that their approval is attached to their child’s performance. Even if that’s not what they want to say.
To communicate unconditional love, let go of the critiquing and coaching–at least right after the game; you can come back to it later if your child wants it–and focus on the positive. Or how about a simple, “I loved watching you play today!” No conditions. No strings. Just pride and positivity and love. There will be time later for the coach to correct and critique problems.
Don’t let these youth sports years go by without fully investing yourself and taking advantage of the opportunities to help your child learn huge life lessons. You may still be putting out a lot of money, but as the American Express commercial says, there are some things that are simply priceless, and youth sports is one of them!