I came across a statistic in Parenting Magazine last month that struck a cord with me. According to experts, 31% of kids who participate in a sport wished their parents weren't watching because they get distracted by yelling, cheering and feel pressured to perform well and win.
This made me think back to Sophia's soccer season last spring, when my husband and I observed just that. I remember being so excited for her first game. I had the camera documenting each play and we stood on the sidelines yelling, cheering and wanting Sophia to " get after that ball!" After the game she came off the field with tears in her eyes saying she didn't want us to watch her anymore. When I asked her why, she said she didn't like us cheering for her and that we yelled too much. I remember feeling terrible that her first introduction to a team sport was filled with so much pressure.
The following week solidified this, when we were out of town and Sophia's grandpa took her to the game. She scored a goal and had a load of fun! Okay, we were officially bad sports parents. From that week on, my husband and I kept our mouths shut and tried to limit our cheers and sideline coaching, which made for a successful season.
Today, Sophia has her first soccer practice of the fall season. She was excited to sign up again with a buddy and can't wait to find out what color team she's on (a girl after my own heart – worried about the team shirts matching her Umbros). With one season under our family's belt, I've taken away some things that I'm going to be more aware of this fall that might be helpful to other moms out there.
1. The fun factor! Sports are supposed to be fun. Period. Encourage your child to just have fun out there and don't focus so heavily on scoring goals or winning the game.
2. Too much praise. I always thought that you can't praise you child enough, but I've found that too much cheering and commenting on your child's performance can make them feel nervous and anxious. In Sophia's case she liked it if we cheered for the team in general ( go Green Turtles!), but not single her out.
3. Keep out of it. I haven't had to deal with this one yet, but last year I observed a lot of parents overstepping bounds and getting into it with the coach. Note to all parents, if you want a say in your child's playing time, then coach. Let the poor soul who is corralling 12 kids each week do his/her job.
I'd love to hear about your experiences and any advice you might have for other moms whose kids are getting into a sport this fall!
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