When I look at my children, I think of how beautiful their innocence is. They exude this level of confidence and fearlessness that so many adults wish we could have. As a parent, I think back to when I was a child and how my childhood shaped and formed who I became as an adult. From the sports I played to the competitions I participated in – they were all factors that molded me into who I would become. I played in a variety of competitive sports from the age of ten all the way up through age fifteen as a young athlete. There was volleyball, basketball, track, drill team, and cheerleading. My parents were constantly supporting me and sometimes a little fierce when it came time to motivating me to push harder too. It was during those times that the competition did get overwhelming sometimes, and not just between the teams but also the parents! At the same time, I loved the camaraderie and friendships that playing in sports created, being fit, and wanting to take care of my body also were great benefits to sports too.
With four children ranging in age between fifteen and five, I’ve experienced and witnessed some extreme forms of competitive sports as a parent. My oldest two have played in sports since the age of four and have been in competitive sports and non-competitive sports. Some parents have gotten into heated arguments (verbally and physically) over their children’s games and set very poor examples to their children, family, and the teams around. It can be very traumatizing for children, embarrassing even. And then there were many occasions where the teams were encouraging, motivating, and a lot of fun. My children have also made great friends and gained experiences that they can create memories with when they have families of their own too. There are a lot of great benefits to being a young athlete – great friendships, team work and team building, exercise and healthy habits, self-discipline, the amazing feeling when you’ve finished a season, and the motivation to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Indeed the benefits truly outweigh the risks. Honestly as parents, we can prevent a lot of the negatives happening in competitive sports by supporting, encouraging and lifting up our children more. After all, it really is a game.
My youngest children are involved in sports at their own choosing. We decided to go in a different direction this time around and we recently put our youngest son, Jude, in a non-competitive indoor soccer team. The purpose was to keep him active and healthy with exercise and to also burn all that energy that he has. The parents have been so encouraging and motivating and everyone has been engaged and supportive with each other in the team. We decided to start them off in non-competitive sports until we (both the parents and children) were mentally and physically ready to compete. I am relieved and glad we went in this to help us all prepare for the competitive side to come.
We have a responsibility as parents to create the right environment for our little athletes, because they don’t know any better. They base their experience and knowledge after what we show them. Here are two very important mantras to live by when it comes to raising up your young athlete and something I have learned through over three decades of experience personally in sports:
Show them how to live right in every way.
Your children are watching you. Parents often forget that everything they do is being seen by their children more so than what they say. When they’re playing sports, they’re watching you watch them and how you act and react affects them positively or negatively. They want you to be proud of them and they don’t want to let you down, that comes naturally in a parent-child relationship. Be uplifting, be encouraging, and most of all cheer them on whether they win or lose.
Be a TEAM cheerleader.
Show your support for your child and his or her team. It wouldn’t be a sport, a game, or a competition if there weren’t a team. Show your child that you understand that it’s a team effort and support everyone because that’s true sportsmanship. After all, there is no ‘I’ in TEAM!
I recently read Perception vs. Reality in Youth Sports: Understanding the Real World of Kids and Sports Through the Experiences of Successful Athletes
Understanding the Real World of Kids and Sports Through the Experiences of Successful Athletes and I really wish I had something like this when I was a new Mother learning about engaging my children in sports. It gives parents perspective on what are, and are not, important issues in their child’s sports experience and give parents a better understanding on things they can do to make their child’s sports experience a positive one. They also cover a large variety of topics that every parent who puts their children in sports should read. The book also addresses issues that come up when kids play sports and how parents should handle those situations.
Topics they cover include:
- The Benefits of Youth Sports
- The Downside of Youth Sports
- Age to Begin Playing Organized Sports
- Choosing Which Sports to Play
- Team Sports vs. Individual Sports
- Travel/Club/Elite/Select Sports Teams
- The Supportive Parent
- Moms vs. Dads
- The Over-Involved Parents
- Parents Giving Advice to Kids
- Parent Behavior
and many more…
Pick up a copy and get them started on the right track when it comes to making youth sports decisions! OR…win a copy on our giveaway by entering below!
Perception vs. Reality
Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Perception vs. Reality in Youth Sports and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.