How I Encourage and Support Positive Aspects of Youth Sports

July 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
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As a Parent, how do I encourage and reinforce the positive aspects of youth sports?  This is a question posed by ResponsibleSports.com

This is such a weighted question for me.  I am the mother of three children who are still at home and the mom of two who have grown up.  And all do/did sports.

Youth sports has changed drastically over the past twenty five years.  When I first was involved with my kids doing sports it was primarily parents who where the coaches, uniforms were very simple, practices were helpful but not mandatory.  And there were no terms such as youth sports or soccermom, and the minivan was brand new!

Now we have professional coaches, uniforms for whole towns that are more than silk-screened t-shirts, the practices are often mandatory, and we certainly understand the terms youth sports, soccermom and all the other new terminology developed around this growth industry.  And the minivan is synonymous with being a youth sports mom.

So what have I done with this change in culture to have one daughter be a dance captain, one daughter be a college level athlete, and one daughter be in Olympic training?  And the other two are very involved, successful, and full of fun in their youth sports?

The first thing I do is attend to what my child did that was great, energetic, tough, stepping up for them.  In other words I look at each child as an individual.  I look at what that child has done that day- in practice or in competition.  I compare that child to that child.  I do not ever compare my child to anyone else.  I think this is the first and most important aspect of encouraging and reinforcing youth sports.

The second thing I do with youth sports is to keep the fun in it.  At any level or time that one of my kids loses some of the fu aspect we reevaluate how and why this has happened.  Sometimes it is due to pressures from teammates or coaches. Other times it is due to personal pressures.  And there are the fateful times when the loss of fun comes from me.

When my daughters lose the fun aspect we take a break- from a practice to a week off.  We find things to do that are just so much fun that the stuck daughter forgets that she is stuck.  Then she can’t wait to get back to the sport of choice and go great guns again.

Now there is another aspect of reinforcing that takes great skill, patience, and empathy for my children.   This is when I let them know that they have not done their best.  And it is truly tricky to do this just right.  This comes back to comparing them to themselves.  This is the most unique thing I do to reinforce and support my children their youth sports

This can be done with practices or competitions.  I generally start out with a question.  “How do feel about your practice/game today?”  (By the way I ask this question, or a variation, most days.  Then it does not come as a clear signal that they did not do as well as they could.

Then if they tell me some negative response, like,  “It totally sucked.”  I ask why.  We then get into a talk about whatever is the real issue.  It is anything from being tired, hungry, cross about something else.  On they really fed up that they can’t do something that they have been working on.

Then we strategize about how to change this.  We do woohoo things like meditating, using law of attraction, Reiki and other energy shifting processes.  We do tactical things like setting goals and looking at the steps needed to accomplish those goals and what is already in place.  And we do things like take a nap, check how she’s been eating, and have a message.  And we get ice cream just to say it will al work out.

The absolutely most important thing I do to support and reinforce my daughters in their youth sports is to keep all of involved with the process of sports.  The results come as they come ant there is not much we can do about each actual competition.

But the process is the key.  Sports at any age are challenging using physical and mental strength.  They are bursting with emotion.  They can be really tough, they can be fun, they can even be boring at times.

The most important thing is to know that youth sports are a wonderful way to have a great attitude on life in general, be an outlet for stuffed feelings and emotions, and they are about being able to do ones personal best, improve from moment to moment, and still know when it important to recharge.

Youth sports, when encouraged and supported with positive parents, is one of the greatest ways to instill and maintain natural high self esteem in your children.

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