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What Parents Can Do to Create a Positive Youth Sports Experience

  • Support for your child must be unconditional.
  • Be patient for the process, and enjoy it.
  • Understand how the developmental progression works for sports skills.
  • Be knowledgeable that many of the developmental milestones for sports skills cannot be accelerated beyond their natural limit.
  • Realize that physical, chemical, and mental development all affect ability and all progress along different timetables.
  • Support achievements as they occur. This will reduce pressure to achieve skills that are not quite ready.
  • Remember, your child has his or her own likes and dislikes and should be able to participate without pressure to choose a certain activity.
  • Remember that there are developmental patterns for chemical changes that allow your child to be able to progress in training intensity when it is time.
  • Understand the extra changes that occur in the puberty transition from child to teenager.
  • Don’t overreact to normal developmental processes and changes that occur during puberty and may temporarily affect ability.
  • Understand the profound developmental effect of a firm positive foundation of self-esteem on future performance and ability to handle competitive pressure.
  • Redefine success and make sure performance disappointments are not seen as failures that the child might take personally.
  • Teach your child that winning means a lot more than a gold medal (you first have to believe that yourself).
  • Encourage your child any way you can.
  • Find more things your child is doing right than things to criticize.
  • Support by being visible at their events.
  • Keep your comments positive without a lot of addenda or stipulations.
  • Help your children take some responsibilities for their sport without making them feel overwhelmed with duties.
  • Watch for warning signs of burnout or avoidance.
  • Remember your child is a child, not a child-sized adult.
  • Help your child set realistic goals (not your goals).
  • Allow changes in sports, and encourage exposure to different sports.
  • Instill a sense of value in exercise and fitness regardless of structured competition.
  • Communicate sincerely and often with your child about his or her desires.
  • Help your child build a strong sense of self-worth and identity that is not dependent on the sport itself or level of achievement.
  • Provide positive momentum by celebrating reality successes as often as possible.

 

Author
Paul R. Stricker, MD, FAAP
Last Updated
5/11/2013
Source
Sports Success Rx! Your Child’s Prescription for the Best Experience (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.