As parents–and especially as sport parents–we sometimes forget when to shut up. We get caught up in the emotions and the concerns of the moment, and all filters disappear. Words just start coming out and there is simply no taking them back.
Perhaps if we saw some red flags pop up in our conversations, we might stop ourselves before saying something we regret.
Watch for any of these red flags and when you see one, bite your tongue until you have a chance to filter your words.
Red Flag #1: You express your personal worries about your child’s circumstance.
Parents are really good at disguising their own worries as “concern” for their child’s well-being. I know because I’ve perfected it over the years. I just want you to be happy. I just want you to get what you deserve. I don’t think you’re being treated fairly at all.
Red Flag #2: You tell your kids how nervous you are for them.
I think it’s okay to do this after the game, but not before. Your child may have enough jitters of his own. Don’t put more pressure on him by letting him know you are nervous too.
Red Flag #3: You put down the coach or other players in an effort to make your child feel better.
Attacking others never helps a child get better in his game. Attacking others never resolves the conflict. Attacking others only makes you feel better for about two seconds.
Red Flag #4: You dissect your child’s game more than he does.
In other words, let it go. If your child is not eager to learn and grow in his skills, don’t force it on him. In sports, especially as kids grow older, they have got to want it, in order to improve and have success.
Red Flag #5: You focus on performance more than effort.
In the NFL, players don’t get paid for putting out a good effort. Fortunately, your child is not in the NFL and you as a parent should be all about the good effort your child gives each time he plays. Sure, high five him for a TD or a good scoring game, but if you’re gonna be studying his stats, do it after he goes to bed, so he doesn’t think that’s all you care about.
Sticks and stones may break bones, however, words can break spirits. Are you watching yours?
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