Sports Parents, What will it be?
You have a choice to make that will greatly impact your child’s youth sports journey. In fact, I’d venture to say that this choice will have the greatest influence on you as a sports parent and on your child.
Perhaps you think that I’m going to talk about the decision of which team your child should play for, or perhaps, which sport your child should play. Although those are important choices, they will not influence your child’s youth sports journey as much as another choice that many of you overlook.
This is a choice you make daily. And it starts with anything that impacts you at any moment.
If you’re a sports parent, that can include a huge variety of events: your child striking out, the coach taking your child out of the game, another player playing the position your child has worked for, a debatable call by the official–and the list goes on.
You don’t have much to say about those things happening to you, but you do have a choice in how you respond.
I’m reading a book called Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life. It is a life-changing book! The author lays out a very powerful reality. At nearly every moment of our lives, we’re faced with choosing between two responses: every one of us chooses either the Learner or Judger path. The difference between the two is in the type of questions you ask.
The Judger asks negative, blaming questions; the Learner asks positive, seeking questions.
What’s wrong with me?
What’s wrong with him/her?
How can I prove I’m right?
Why is he/she so clueless and frustrating?
Haven’t we been there, done that?
What do I value about myself?
What do I appreciate about him/her?
Am I being responsible?
What can I learn?
What is he/she feeling, thinking and wanting?
What are the best steps forward?
The author explains that most of us shift back and forth between Learner and Judger mindsets, barely aware we have any control or choice.
Choice begins when we are mindful enough to observe our own thoughts and feelings and the language we use to express them. This is the key to success–building the muscles of the observer self. Self coaching is impossible without a strong observer.
So the first question to ask yourself when you are reacting to a situation is this: am I in Learner or Judger mode?
The difference between Learner and Judger sports parents is more than just a positive or negative attitude. As the author explains, with a Judger mindset, the future can be only a recycled version of the past. But with the Learner mindset, you can actually make a new future for yourself.
Judger questions result in a negative stalemate. I know that status quo is often not what you want as a sports parent!
Learner questions result in positive change. This is the path that will make you happier and calmer, and ultimately will help your child as well.
So the next time you are at a game or practice and you find yourself reacting to something that bothers you, ask yourself: am I in a Learner or Judger mindset?
Once you recognize that fork in the road, you can start making the changes to keep you on the Learner path. And the ultimate result of the Learner mindset is a growing and positive youth sports experience for your child.