Cocky is defined as arrogant, conceited, very self-assertive. These are not characteristics of a team player.
If your child is a gifted athlete, he will be very tempted to adopt a cocky attitude. After all, the coaches, the local paper, the local TV, his friends and his teachers will all be telling him how good he is.
That’s a lot for a kid to take in, and still keep from becoming a prideful, cocky person. I’d suggest several ways for you to help keep him grounded:
- Model humility. It always starts with what YOU do.
- Teach that there is no “i” in team. No matter how good your kid is, they cannot do it alone. Period.
- Show no special treatment. By parents or by teachers. Athletes should be held to same standards as non-athletes and not given favors.
- Remind them of their responsibility as leaders. Other kids look up to athletes. Whether or not they like that, it’s a fact. And because of that, they need to take that responsibility seriously.
- Offer them balance. When your kids play sports, it’s very tempting for sports to take over the entire household. But that can cause sports burnout. Instead, advocate balance. Let them grow in other areas of life–other interests, hobbies, adventures.
- Praise them and their teammates. Recognize your child’s hard efforts, and point out the hard work of their teammates. This is just another way of instilling the no-I-in-team mentality.
- Don’t support the “victim” mentality. According to your kid, there will always be someone else to blame. A blind ref. Selfish teammates. Even the stupid coach. Don’t feed that in your kid because unfortunately, that victim mentality will spill over into other areas of his life.
- Teach respect for coaches, teammates, refs. This is hard because there are coaches who are clueless, teammates who are selfish and obnoxious, and refs who are incompetent. We must tell our kids to respect them as human beings, even if we don’t like the way they do their jobs. It all starts at home, folks. Our kids are like sponges; they will drip out what they soak up. What are you pouring into your kids? Are you teaching them to respect others?
In our house, swagger is done in fun. When my kids come home, they know they can joke about how good they are, and we laugh because we know that they are teasing. But when they head out the door and enter the field or court, they know that the swagger stays home where it belongs; and humble leadership rules.
Janis B. Meredith writes a sportsparenting blog, http://jbmthinks.com. She’s been a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, and sees life from both sides of the bench. You can also follow her on facebook and twitter.