My oldest son, Cole, is very involved in sports. He loves to play football, basketball and baseball. As I have watched him play sports over the past few years, I have learned that I can become too involved and excited about his success. One day while I was surfing the net, I stumbled upon a fantastic blog that is geared towards parents. The author is Janis Meredith and she grew up in a sports family, married a man who has coached for 27 years,and has had three kids play sports from age 5 to college. She sees issues a bit differently, with a perspective of life from both sides of the bench-as a coach’s wife and as an athlete’s parent. You can find Janis’ blog HERE.
Thanks to Janis for posting today…
After all, it is your job to push them to play their best, isn’t it? Maybe, maybe not.
The problem is that kids don’t like to be pushed by their parents. The older they get, the more they are likely to resist.
So as your kids grow older, you have to get real sneaky about it. Here’s how you can push your kids without them knowing it.
- Ask the right question after practice or games. Notice I said question, singular. How did practice go? or How did you feel about your game tonight? One question shows your interest and gives them a chance to say as much or as little as they want. It indicates that you do care and you do want to know how they are doing. Too many questions can annoy them and make them feel like you are putting more pressure on them.
- Offer opportunities for them to work outside of practice. Offer, not push or demand. I’ll drive you to the gym if you’d like to work out or would you like to go to a speed training camp? or I’ll be glad to check out traveling teams if you’d like to play. If they say no, then drop it, and maybe bring it up again at another time when they express a desire to improve their skills.
- Be at as many games as you possibly can. It’s understandable if you can’t be at every one, but the more you are present at your child’s games, the more you communicate your support. Your presence may push him to work harder and play his best.
- Notice, and offer casual praise for his hard work. You may be jumping up and down inside that your kid is pushing himself and working hard, but you gotta keep your cool, especially if we are talking about adolescents. If your praise is too effusive, he may be embarrassed or annoyed or if he’s in those contrary years, he may figure that if he’s pleasing you too much, then maybe he doesn’t want to work so hard. You have to perform a balancing act between ignoring it and over-doing the positive reinforcement. A simple, hey, nice job tonight! or I really liked the way you played aggressively this afternoon, or I can definitely see that you’ve been working hard at practice will communicate your support and interest without sounding like your love and approval is attached to his performance. Let her own her success.
- Let him bask in and enjoy his good games, points scored, games won. Reinforce the fact that he worked hard and it paid off. Refrain from I-told you- so statements that make it sound like their success was all your idea. When kids see that their hard work does pay off, they are more likely to push themselves, with very little help from you.
There is no magical age when a kid starts really pushing himself. It varies with each athlete. I’ve seen 10-year-old’s with amazing drive and seniors in high school that finally peaked in their desire.
Being a self motivator is a valuable life lesson for your child to learn; it comes in handy later in life. If we help them learn by slyly pushing them–so they don’t know what hit them–they will feel responsible for their own success. And that will cause the self motivation muscles to grow stronger.
Of course, if you’ve raised smart kids, they will figure out that you are pushing them. But if you follow these guidelines, they will most likely let you think you are getting away with it.