As you sit on the sidelines, what are you watching most? The score? The time-clock, your phone, or your child?
As hard as it is, I’d like to suggest that you tear your eyes away from the scoreboard and focus more on what you observe as you watch your child. There some important things that you should be seeing as your young athlete plays the game.
An occassional smile.
This will hopefully indicate that your child enjoys playing. If your athlete always looks angry or frustrated, you may need to help him start looking for and celebrating the smaller victories as well as the big ones.
Encouragement for Teammates.
It always made me smile to see my kids pat a teammate on the back, or speak encouragement to one who was struggling. When your child can do this, she is learning the importance of being a team player.
Respect for a Competitor.
It’s great to see your child help a teammate up from the ground, but it’s even better when he helps an opponent up. I always loved seeing my kids say something positive or pat a competitor on the back after he made a good play. Don’t feed the lie that the opponent is the enemy.
A Determined Look.
When your athlete makes a mistake or faces a deflating situation, the look you want to see on her face is one of determination. It’s natural for a child to initially feel discouraged, but when she can get back up and keep fighting after being knocked down–that makes any sports parent proud!
If your child is not doing as his coach instructs, you may want to have a talk with him about how coaches love working with kids who do what they ask in the game. Kids who respect their coach’s wishes and ask for his help exhibit a teachability that will benefit them in sports and in all other areas of life.
Your child doesn’t have to be voted team captain or co-captain to be a leader. When my daughter was a junior in high school, she struggled with this very issue. I told her that she didn’t need a title to be a leader. Leaders serve, encourage, and set examples, and when I saw her doing those things, I knew she was learning lessons of leadership that would take her far in life.
If you are not seeing any of these 6 things from the sidelines during your child’s competition, then it’s time to shift your focus from results, to effort and character development–the things that will truly matter in 10 years when the score is long forgotten.