THE BALL IS IN YOUR COURT~ HOW PARENTS CAN SUPPORT THEIR CHILDREN WHO ARE ATHLETES
“Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings”. Being a parent of an athletic child you are going to have your own set of challenges traveling along with them in their athletic journey. While your children are going to be the drivers in the journey, as parents you will have to be the navigating maps, the speedometer and sometimes the headlight. Your support is essential for them to drive safe and clear in their journey. In this edition of Parental Central, we will look into how parents can support their children who are athletes.
THE MASTERY APPROACH
Like Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” There is great power in being able to participate and give one’s best without bothering about the result. Emphasis on winning or losing brings with it a pressure quotient. The Mastery Approach is on the opposite of this continuum. You simply need to get your kids to master the art of giving their best in every competition without having to worry about outperforming others. This will be the very first stop in the long journey of your kid’s athletic life. Striving for excellence is an ongoing process unlike striving for success. Get your kids to see the difference and your job is half done.
THE MISFIRING ARROW- PARENTAL PRESSURE
The second stop is tackling the nuances of parental expectation and pressure. Parental pressure is a double-ended sword. Parental pressure in the form of displaying dissatisfaction regarding failure and low performance can both facilitate and deter the performance of children. But the most prominent effect is that children do not have potential gains from the act. Motivation along with a positive approach is much more appropriate.
THE COACH~ DRONACHARYA EFFECT
The sports journey of an athlete is intertwined with that of the coach. The third stop is finding a coach for your children. When you’re in the lookout for a coach, there are few things you don’t want to miss. You will have to make sure the coach is picking up your kid’s good performance and responding to it appropriately. You also need to see how well versed the coach is in mindfully encouraging the kids even after a bad performance. Providing instructions is the basis of any coaching and precise instruction goes a long way in sports. Coaches should be able to provide positive as well as corrective instructions. Also, ensure the technical instructions of the coach are on point. End of the day, it is important that the kids are well trained in their techniques to make a mark in their respective fields.
Here are a few places we picked out for you to start your hunt for a coach:
THE MOTIVATIONAL CLIMATE = PARENTS + COACH
A mastery orient coach along with a supportive parent is a deadly combination. This combo creates the right motivational climate for an athlete to grow and excel. Success within this kind of a motivational climate is focused on self improvement, playing the sport for the sheer pleasure of it and giving one’s best. This sort of climate is conducive of good performance and its subsequent improvement. As a parent, you need to focus on creating a healthy motivational climate for your children. Some of the options are to have regular meetings with the coach, have sessions where you, your kids and the coach are sharing your views on an issue, ensuring a good rapport with the coach and work along with the coach for schedules, matches and any other needs that might arise.
DEALING WITH COMPETITION~ LEARNING TO BE THE LIBRA
“Youth sports should not be based on pressure to win. Instead, it should be on the enjoyment of competing and the opportunity to develop positive attitudes toward other people through that competition.” Lute Olson
Competition is the way to betterment. Competition is always healthy and good for a sportsperson. But most kids fail to see the difference between being competent and winning every game. The way children handle competition is strongly tied to their self-esteem. Children most often wear themselves out in practicing session and games trying to win their competition. As parents, you need to make sure your kids are not lost in this vicious cycle. Competition is healthy with the right mindset. You need to get your kids to a state of clear thinking so that they are sharp and ready to handle the competition. Some of the ways we would suggest are:
Muscle Relaxation Techniques are highly effective.
Breathe. Deep breathes are known to change the chemical composition in your brain.
Self Talks. Get your children to experience the effects of self-talk.
Your athletic knowledge and experience might be limited but it doesn’t have to stop you from cheering for your kids from the stands or taking them to their practice sessions. The most important stop in your kid’s athletic journey that you shouldn’t miss is watching them play. Being there for them and enquiring about their whereabouts will instil confidence in them that you are invested in their passion. The 2 big I’s are what will keep your kids going when the going gets tougher.
Bandura’s observational learning applies across a large spectrum of fields. When it comes to following routines and practicing techniques, your children learn from seeing what you do. They do as you do rather than do as you say. The best way is to practice what you preach. Start taking your physical fitness seriously. Stay Healthy. Follow a routine. The more your kid’s watch you get working on your fitness; especially watching you enjoy it, the more likely they are going to do the same thing. Your children won’t simply learn from doing an activity but would rather learn to do something just by watching the consequences of someone else engaging in an activity. This is simple yet effective to get your kids started. Supporting your child through the athletic journey requires 360-degree thinking.
TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN
There is no point in conveying your expectations, appreciations and motivation; if it gets lost in your communication with the children. Sometimes it is important to make sure the message you are trying to convey is being received the way you intend it to. You need to be very cautious your children are not misinterpreting your expectations. If the messages are not received properly it would do more harm than good.
Some tips to effectively communicate with your children:
Listen more in a conversation
Make sure you have clarified if your children have correctly received your message
Ensure not only your verbal but also your non-verbal cues convey the same message.
Be mindful of your children’s your message.
It is important to create and follow a healthy diet plan for your children. Building a plan with all essential micro and macronutrients is a good start. It builds a very strong foundation for the kids to work on. You know what best suits your kids. So we have picked a few places where you can create a diet plan for your kids:
That best part about this software is that the diet plans are personalized and fits your need. When it comes to your children’s sports journey it is important to build nutritional knowledge. You need to know what you’re giving your children and how they are benefitting from it. Our reading suggestion for you would be Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook.
Don’t make diet and nutrition a ritual for the children. Try and make it a part of their life that wouldn’t have to put much effort to follow. Tell the importance of why they have to have certain food and make the process more fun by letting them give ideas.
DEALING WITH STRESS, ANXIETY AND BURNOUTS
As athletes, your children are going to be stressed out, anxious and will have burnouts. It is important to deal with it at the very beginning. Some of the ways to help break athletic stress, anxiety and improve mental health would be:
Take the training process slow and steady. It shouldn’t be a one time thing. It has to be progressive
Rather than avoiding competition, select competition more carefully.
Exercise, exercise and exercise! Exercise has a huge amount of beneficial effect on the mental health of people in all frontiers and athletes are no exception.
Keep tabs of sleeping pattern. An adequate amount of sleep can do wonders.
Always remember a little amount of stress is always good for your children. It lets them perform better.
Parental support can make a huge difference while it comes to an athlete’s mental health.
In case of extreme disturbance, you will have to find a counselor to help you deal with the situation.
Psychology India- is the first national directory for mental health professionals, which might come in handy while you search for a counselor.