Ask any good little league coach and they’ll most likely tell you that there are two main reasons kids play sports. First, they do it to have fun. Second, they do it to be with their friends. Believe it or not, winning isn’t at the top of their list.
So what can you do as a parent to encourage your children to not only enjoy their athletic activities but also to stay motivated?
1. Instead of comparing your children to other athletes, encourage them to set personal goals for improvement. Be careful not to convey the message that your children’s self-worth is based on their performance, in sports or otherwise.
2. Make sure you have some practice time alone with your child. Throw the ball in the backyard when you get home from work. Take your child to the batting cage. Go to a nearby field and kick the soccer ball around.
3. If your budget permits, take your son or daughter to a football, baseball, basketball, soccer, or volleyball game. Watching an athletic event together will not only create a memory for you and your child, but also may pique their interest in the sport.
4. Consider allowing your child to only play one sport at a time, especially when they are younger. Susan and I found that that rule helped to ensure that sports were not dominating the free time of our children, keeping them from thoroughly doing homework, spending time with family, playing with friends, or enjoying other pursuits.
5. Encourage your child and don’t put undue pressure on your child. Don’t just ask, “Did you win?” Instead, ask questions geared to the sport experience such as, “What was the best part of the practice/game?” Or, “Can I help you improve any skill?” And, most importantly, “Did you have fun?”
How have you encouraged and motivated your child in sports?