Parent to Parent, I have a question for you…
What if you could use 5 simple words that would change the way your kids perform in sports AND improve the dynamics of your relationship with them when they’re not competing?
According to John O’Sullivan, 70% of kids quit sports by the time they reach middle school.
And the reason is simple: it’s not fun anymore.
Kids participate in sports because they love the game, they love playing, and they enjoy spending time with their friends. Yes, they like winning, but that’s not the reason they play.
It’s not even on the list of the top 10 reasons they play.
But what happens is that parents and coaches get caught up in winning. Suddenly, kids aren’t getting the opportunity to play because we’re overly focused on winning and only putting the best players on the field. Kids who are great athletes find themselves competing at a higher level and suddenly getting cut from teams… while only in the 7th grade.
That isn’t what kids signed up for.
But there is something parents (and coaches) can do to encourage kids to want to play harder, be less worried about making mistakes, and, overall, love the game more.
And all it requires is five words: “I love watching you play.”
(Or, if your kids are in a sport like swimming or cheerleading, you could change that to, “I love watching you compete.”)
If you say nothing else, those five simple words will speak volumes to your child. They’ll know that their performance doesn’t matter, that you’ll love them unconditionally, regardless of whether they make mistakes, win or lose.
After that, it’s up to you to establish whether or not your child wants to discuss how the game or competition went. Some kids want to talk about it right afterwards, whereas others want to move on.
Follow your child’s lead and don’t be afraid to ask which they prefer (to discuss or not).
Parent To Parent: Communication is Key
Parent to parent, we all just want our kids to be happy and healthy and do what they love.
Through sports, they can have many of these things met. They can find joy in playing a sport and spending time with friends, stay healthier through regular physical activity and find something they truly love to participate in.
More than that, even, they can learn resilience, critical thinking, teamwork and even integrity. Lessons that can stick with them for a lifetime, long after the game is over.
But none of this can be achieved through a sport if our kids drop out by middle school.
The simplest way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to let go of our focus on winning and consistently use the same phrase after a game or competition, to let our kids know we love them unconditionally, win or lose.
“I love watching you play.”
Or “I love watching you compete.”
By saying this after they win, you won’t be taking away from the joy of the win and by saying it after they lose, you’ll avoid making them feel even worse about the loss.
Through these five simple words, you’ll reduce your child’s fear of making mistakes, increase their self-confidence, encourage them to play harder and assure them that your love is unconditional.
Have you ever tried this with your kids? Try it out for a few games/competitions and let us know if you see a difference!