What is your most powerful sports parenting tool? I would argue the tool you have that has the biggest impact on who your children become and how much they gain from playing sports is the words that come out of your mouth.
It’s interesting what you remember from your childhood. Maybe you recall when a coach called you slow or stupid, a teacher said you were smart and were going to do great things someday, or a peer laughed at your low grades or slow running.
These memories all connect to one another and become who we are and the words that stick in your mind shape you the most.
Your parenting words have tremendous power. Be picky about the ones you choose.
Choose words that express love.
Choose words that convey your belief in your child.
Choose words that emphasize hope.
When a hard conversation must be had with your child, choose words sandwiched in love.
Choose words that challenge your child to think and find their own solutions.
Choose words that build up, not tear down.
Choose words that speak life.
Be picky about the words you say to your kids. They WILL shape your child’s life.
Author Bob Goff explains it this way:
Just like some heckling kept us off the field because of how we threw or ran like a giraffe in roller skates, the right words from the right people put us on track to become nurses, public servants, or human rights advocates when they told us our talents could change the world. Powerful words gave us the gentle push we needed, the courage to push past. If we were to trace our steps back along the path that led us here, we would likely find it all started with a few well-placed words from someone we trusted.
Remember the infamous scene from The Help, where the nanny says to the little girl every day, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important?" I have no doubt that those words made a big impact on that little girl and she remembered them long after her nanny was gone.
What if coaches and parents focused on speaking positive words over children every day?
As they are headed to sports practice: “You are such a hard worker and a great leader!”
As they go out to spend time with friends: “I’m so glad that you picked such good friends! You are smart!”
When they help around the house: “You are kind and loving to help!”
And then, when they do absolutely nothing to earn your positive words, speak them anyway: “You are kind. You are smart. You are important.”
Let those be the last words your child hears before they go to sleep, or the first words they hear in the morning, or the words that send them out into their day.
Your words are the foundations of their soul. Use words that will build them up strong.