New Season: Guidance Principals for Parents. Let Positive Communication be Your Guide
As we enter the new sports season, the pressure and stress on athletes become enormous, and parents hold the key to their child’s stress levels and more importantly overall performance levels. Positive communication is key. Will my child play varsity? Will she start? How much playing time will he get? Is the coach going to be fair this year?
These are all questions and concerns athletes, as well as parents, encounter each season.
I have outlined the top four guidance principals to assist you in a healthy, productive and active season.
1. Compare and Express Expectations
Positive communication with coaches is a high priority, and a high school coach is not immune to a conversation with parents. Build a relationship with the coach and get involved with the program. If your child is hoping to play sport in college, it is important to set a time to talk with the coach to discuss your child’s role and goals for playing in the program. Keep an open mind and try not to take things personally; the team is not about your child.
A high school coach today cannot be everything to everybody. High school coaches are often volunteers. Most are not full-time and the pay can be low. They have other jobs, family, and a personal life. Therefore, your child’s individual development as an athlete may not be a coaches highest priority, rather, it’s the teams overall development. It would be wise to sit down with the coach and determine if your expectations and the coaches expectations regarding your child are even. If they aren’t, you might want to find out how your expectations can match his.
Why is this a high priority? Think about it this way. If your child were struggling in Math, you would have a conversation with the Math teacher. If your child is struggling in a sport then, the same approach works. After all, coaches are typically open to discussing your child’s involvement.
2. Stay as Positive in Communication as Possible
Bashing the coach to your child never works. If you have nothing nice to say about the coach in your child’s presence, say nothing and move on. Avoid that parent (or group of parents) who engage in negative conversations regularly. If the style of coaching is a problem, complaining and gossiping will do very little to change it. Playing sports at the high school level is an invitation, not an obligation and neither the coach nor the school actually owe you anything.
3. Don’t Give Unsolicited Advice Thinking It’s Positive Communication
Keep a positive outlook on game performances, regardless of the outcome. Once the event is over, it’s over. So unless your child wants to discuss the game – particularly his/ her contributions, don’t offer unsolicited advice. Talking about what your child should have done does little but add more stress. Negative comments about performance will only push your child away from expressing how they feel about the sport/game. Allow your athlete to start the conversation, listen carefully and ask simple questions to promote positive communication.
4. Constantly check the Health and Well-being of your child
The most important area of sport is an athletes well-being. No one knows your child better than you. And the mood swings of an adolescent can send parents on an emotional rollercoaster during the season. You need to watch your child’s habits, attitudes, eating and most of all sleeping patterns. If you start to see changes in these, something is not right and you need to address it before it becomes a major health concern. If left unattended your child will not perform at the level they are capable of, and will become frustrated even to the point of packing it in.
Unfortunately, most athletes hear “it will be alright” or “just be mentally tough.” The things that drain a child’s emotional state is different for each athlete. Your child wants to play; wants to start, in most cases, this comes at a price. But you have to ask yourself, is depression, isolation, mood swings and emotional outburst worth it? The Cost of Winning should be evaluated by all parents. Often the way forward is allowing the child to express their feelings about life with someone other than mom or dad who has knowledge of what the kid is going through during the season. Sports is supposed to be fun, and if we interject our desires into our child’s sporting experience, it could quickly become an unpleasant experience for you, the coach and most importantly your child.
By Dr. Mark Robinson
If you have questions reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org