As parents, the things you say to your children become their inner voice. It will affect the way they see themselves, respond to things that happen, and the way they interpret the world around them. Put simply, you have the biggest opportunity of anyone to influence the person they’ll become. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of sports.
Different Types of Sports Parents
Being a parent is hard work! It’s often thankless in the moment, and sometimes you may wonder if you’re accomplishing much, if anything. Rest assured, dear Mom and Dad, your influence on your children is greater than anyone or anything else in their lives- even when it doesn’t feel like it. For this reason, how you interact with them when they’re playing sports like youth tennis is vitally important. What’s most important to you? Take a moment to consider what type of sports parent you are.
No matter what your child is involved in, you want them to always be the best. You want nothing less than the highest grades and the best in sports, music, or whatever other activities they do. You love them and you want them to do well, but you may be communicating to them that what they do is more important than who they are. They may feel they have more value the better they perform and love is dependent on achievement.
No matter how well or poorly your child does in any given activity, your main concern is how they feel. You want them to always feel good about themselves, regardless of how well they perform. You make it a habit to always lavish them with praise and admiration, even when their effort is low or non-existent. Even though you love them and you want them to have a good self-esteem, you may be communicating to them that what’s most important is what others say about them. Children who experience this often develop an inflated view of themselves and have little or no motivation for self-improvement.
There are some parents who remain self-absorbed and act as though their children are an assignment they must endure. They’re not really concerned about performance or self-image, only in providing their basic needs of food, clothes, shelter, and education. Children who experience this type of parenting are starving for their parent’s attention. They are often unmotivated to do anything well and may not believe they can achieve very much. Their inner voice tells them they are an inconvenience and not worth the time.
Some parents let the children call all of the shots. The children do what they want to do when they want to do it and are never encouraged to follow through with anything. They may join a sports team or start learning to play a musical instrument or some other activity, but they rarely stick with it. It’s very difficult for these children to learn the value of hard work, discipline, and pursuing goals. Their inner voice tells them their self-worth is dependent on always getting what they want.
The balanced approach.
Then there are the rockstar parents. They’re the ones that master the balanced approach. If this is you, you love your kids and are devoted to helping them explore who they are. Of course, you give them their basic needs, but you also give them the one thing they need the most- you. You understand that things like sports, music, drama, and other activities help shape character and develop life skills. Your main concern is that they are loved, encouraged, challenged, and held accountable. Your children know you are involved in their lives, interested in what’s best for them, and give them the freedom to be themselves- mistakes and all. You’re always there to support them, but you don’t try to control them. You push them to do their best in everything but encourage, support, and love them just as much when they fail. Their inner voice tells them to always strive for their very best, but they know they are loved no matter how well they do.
The Power in Balance
Children who are secure in their parents’ love and acceptance typically have the best attitude, give their best most of the time, and know how to win and lose with dignity and respect. When they’re not pressured to perform at all costs, they typically perform better in the long term. When they’re praised for effort just as much as success, they learn to strive for improvement. At the end of the day, they not only typically play tennis better, they become better people all around. When you model and teach balance, they learn balance too.
Model What You Want Them to Become
Sports like tennis are a great platform for children to learn hard work, discipline, character, and how to set and pursue goals. Your parenting style carries a lot of weight in their overall experience and what they ultimately get out of it. What type of sports parent are you? Let this guide to sports parents encourage you to give your kids your best in a balanced approach.
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