As fall arrives you can almost feel the excitement in the air with sports and clubs ramping back up. Kids are settling back into practices and club meetings while parents are preparing for another exciting year of watching games and driving around with trunks full of sports gear and club materials. Lately parents have been asking me for tips on how to help their kids get the most out of sports and clubs. I think it is a great question! Of course, parents want their kid’s experience to be positive, but what actually helps to create the positive experience kids and parents are looking for?
Sports and clubs can help kids build self-esteem, make new friends, have fun, and improve physical and mental health when kids have a positive experience. This experience is created by parents, coaches, teammates, friends, schools, and the larger community. For example, how a parent responds when a kid loses a game or how a coach motivates their team during practice makes all the difference in creating a positive experience.
Tip: Focus on the Effort- comment and encourage your kids effort between the games or competitions not just on if they won or received a trophy. Kids can’t control if they win or lose but they can control how much effort they put into developing new skills and abilities. So keep in mind what you focus on increases so if you want your kid’s determination to increase notice and make comments when they show determination.
One of the well researched benefits of sports is developing self-esteem. The more self-esteem a kid develops the more they can use their self-esteem to overcome life challenges, build determination, develop grit, and think well of themselves in difficult social situations throughout their life. These are qualities most parents want their kids to have so when they get knocked down figuratively or literally they think they are worth getting back up to try again.
Physical and Mental Health Check-Ins: some kids want to please others and win so much they may push themselves to unhealthy physical and mental health. Encourage your kids to check in with themselves to see if they are in on-going physical or mental pain. Let them know it is ok to take care of themself; this can help to build self-esteem and communicate to them that they are important and valued as a person and not just valued for their intellect or physical abilities.
These tips are just a starting point but there are many ways to help develop a positive experience for your kid’s in sports and clubs. Take a quick moment to think of some other ways you can help create a positive experience that are specific to your kids and the clubs and sports they are participating in. Have fun and enjoy all of the new experiences you and your kids will have this year!
References: Collins, N.M, Cromartie. F, Butler, S., Bae, J. (2018). Effects of early sport participation on self-esteem and happiness. Sport Journal, (20) 1-20.
Jennifer Wilmoth, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Featured in Suwanee Magazine www.suwaneemagazine.com