What If You DON’T Love To Watch Them Play?
What If You DON’T Love To Watch Them Play? I’m guessing most of us have experienced this occasionally…or a lot. We all love watching our kids play – most of the time. But what about those times when you don’t enjoy watching them play? When you find yourself putting your head in your hands to keep from witnessing your 8-year-old manage to find every corner of the court where the action ISN’T. Or maybe your baseball player is in a slump – last week, they were crushing the ball, and this week, they can’t hit the side of a barn? Kids’ bodies, minds, and interests are growing and changing at a rapid pace, and this does not always lend itself to good or consistent play.
Studies have shown that winning or watching winning actually increases hormones. We are so closely tied to our children that we get a natural high when they win or do something well. It physically makes us feel good. Their success equals our success. The opposite is true when they aren’t doing well. Mostly because we have a want and need to feel accomplished. We need validation for the sacrifices made and to equate value to their sports. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of ‘WEs’ and not a lot of ‘thems.’ Too much of youth sports has become about us parents and not enough about our young athletes. Too many of our reactions and choices are based on the way we feel and not on what’s truly best for our kids. And maybe most importantly, the real value of sports isn’t about the outcome or their personal success, rather all the lessons and character building traits they gain, particularly in the hard times.
And when your child isn’t doing well in a game, that’s when they need you to be on their side the most. One thing is for sure: they aren’t playing badly on purpose, and they probably feel like they are on an island, like they have let their team down and let us down.
There is no better time to be on their side and by their side.
Be a kind face on the sideline, not a scowling, disapproving face – affirming all the insecure thoughts swirling in their own minds. Create a soft landing and a welcoming car ride home, no matter the outcome on the field. Because this is just a moment in time, a small fraction of their lives and sports careers, it will pass. And when it does, you will start to get comfortable and pat yourself on the back and think, ‘Ah, we’ve got this now,” but guess what? It’s just a matter of time before your kid goes into another slump. And the kid who’s been struggling all season will surprise everyone, doing things nobody saw coming. This is youth sports. It’s a roller coaster ride, and NOBODY’s child is always up. And it’s the growth in between and what they are learning about themselves that will serve them the most in their sports, but even more importantly, in their lives. And if your love and support are in any way tied to their performance, this will eventually diminish their ownership and love for the game, and cause friction between you.
So, remember when you find yourself in these moments, take a deep breath, step back, and ask yourself, is my reaction about them or me? Am I helping them in any positive way right now by how I’m responding? If you answer this from the heart, you will be able to reset and stop the negative behavior. They need you to have their back when they’re down in the dumps, way more than when they’ve just hit a home run, scored a goal, or made the game-winning shot.