Thoughts on supporting children in athletics
I am literally writing this in my car in a parking lot in between games. As many of you know, sometimes in the soccer world as I am sure in other worlds there are double or even triple headers meaning two or three games in one day.
I have been pondering the best ways to support my kids in their sports for 21 years. I finally thought to ask them what it means to feel supported by parents during their athletics. I fully acknowledge that this is anecdotal and not evidenced based but they made some excellent points.
I am often on call for the hospital while watching my children play. If you call with a medical concern I try to step out before you can perceive the crowd cheering or whistles blowing. However, I have also been guilty of staring at my phone especially when my kid warms the bench. My youngest called me out of this and said, “Dad, if you are going to come to my game, you might as well watch my game.” Let’s be present during their events. Watch them and their teammates. Learn their names and congratulate your child and those teammates after the game. Recently, a mother from the other team rolled down her window to my son, and yelled, “Hey, are you the goalie?” He replied yes. “You did such a great job!! Keep it up!” “Thanks!”, he said. That made his day.
Learn the Sport.
It’s true we don’t have to be fanatics but most of us are trying to help our children learn and experience as many things as possible while they are under our rooftops. We balance this and try not to overwhelm them, or us, with too many things on their plate. However, whatever they choose we should strive to learn and understand the rules of the sport. This will help us to support them before, during, and after each event.
Children often enjoy learning more themselves about the sport. When time and resources permit, watch professionals together or take the time to attend a collegiate or professional event. This will help them to feel the fun of spectating which is very much a part of sports as playing it.
Have realistic expectations.
I recently attended a recreational soccer game. The goalie on the opposite team had a good support team in numbers but in my opinion a little too tense in behaviors. From my prospective this 11 year old boy was doing his best but his mother was pointing out his mistakes from the sidelines. First, of all there are some very strict rules about parents coaching their children from the sidelines. There are more appropriate times to give tips and pointers. This was not one of those times and I perceived it did not help this boys confidence.
We need to have realistic expectations of our children and learn to allow them to navigate how they want their experience to be. Ultimately, if they are not having fun then once the season ends, consider a different activity. Also, keep in mind sports are not the end all. Children thrive in so many different ways. In our office, each of our rooms are themed based on ways children thrive. They thrive in reading, science, technology, with animals, in arts, exploration, music and simply being with family. Ask your child how they feel they most thrive and in what activities and then try to help them obtain such opportunities.
We are Thrive Pediatrics, caring for Idaho’s future today.