It’s not fun to watch your child struggle, fail, and suffer discouragement. If you’re like me, you want to figure out how to make it better right away. Like putting a bandaid on a scrape, we want to find an emotional bandaid that covers up the ugly stuff.
Although we can’t give our child “bounce back” pills, like we give him tylenol or advil for his aches, there are ways you help him return to his A-game after a bad game, or stretch of games.
1.Recognize that it may take time.It’s easy for athletes and parents to become impatient during a child’s sports slumps. Climbing out of the low spots may happen after one game or after several. If your athlete is truly working hard and doing his best, he willeventually return to a performance that truly shows his skills and abilities.
2.Realize that even pros goes through slumps. Just ask LeBron James from the Miami Heat or Dan Uggla from the Atlanta Braves. Going through a slump is no reflection of your child’s skills and abilities. It happens to everyone. No one can stay on top 100% of the time. A real athlete understands that and learns to push through the slump.
3.Refrain from negativity or pushing. It only puts more pressure on your child, and that prolongs the recovery. Remarks like “Aren’t you afraid you will lose your starting spot?” or “You’ve GOT to work harder!!!” add another stress to his mind: the worry of not pleasing you.
4.Remember to show love and support. Believe in your child, and express that belief. You will bounce back. And don’t attach conditions to it. Say I love you and am proud of you, with no ifs, ands, or buts. …but you need to work harder…but you must be more aggressive. Bite your tongue.
5. Remind him to keep working hard; it will pay off. This is where your child learns the very valuable lesson of discipline and persistence. She may want to give up trying, or quit. Do everything you can to keep that from happening because the lesson she will learn from this experience will help shape her character for life.
6. Recognize that we can’t make everything better or control our kids’ circumstances. We have to let them learn from the hard knocks and bounce back on their own. We have to let them suffer sometimes. I know it sucks. But better to walk with them through it while they are still home, than send them off on their own if they never learned to persist and suffer through hard stuff.
Janis B. Meredith writes a sportsparenting blog, http://jbmthinks.com and is the author of the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series. She’s been a sports mom for 21 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, and sees life from both sides of the bench.