A race they were meant to win, a game that did not go their way or disappointment for not being selected for a team. A list of potential failures through the eye of a child, all with the potential to have a negative impact on their future sporting endeavors.
Children choose to play sports. It’s a voluntary activity and as long as they are going to play sport, it means they will have to agree to certain conditions. One of those conditions is that, at various points throughout their time in sport, they are going to fail. It’s going to happen to your child, whether you want it to or not.
Not every child will be affected so deeply when not making the team, but all young athletes will eventually face the reality that sports are selective. The most obvious external reward is being able to be a part of a team and with that, the knowledge that, for now, the child’s athletic ability is considered best among his or her peers. On the flip side, the children who don’t get picked suffer a severe blow to their ego, and it is up to the parents to help coax them through.
First and foremost, you need to ensure that your behaviors are focused on all of the processes that make up the sporting experience as opposed to the outcomes achieved each week or in competition and celebrate those processes with your child on a regular basis.
Ask in advance what coaches will be looking for in a player. Knowing what the coach expects ahead of time can alert the parents to whether this sport in this situation would be a good fit for the child. This can also inform a training and development plan to achieve goals moving forward.
Prepare your child for the possibility of not making the team before tryouts begin. “the parents should convey to their sons and daughters to prepare to make the team, to work hard to do so and most importantly, feel good about themselves no matter the outcome.
If your child truly enjoys the sport, do everything possible to keep them interested and involved. If a child doesn’t make a team, they can often feel discouraged and drop the sport.
Allow them to feel the hurt of not making the team. Let your child take the lead on how they want to deal with the disappointment.
Oftentimes children are upset because they feel they let their parents down. Children pick up on parents’ excitement, so reinforce to your child that you aren’t disappointed in them.
In the long run, it is important that parents keep reality in perspective for their young athletes. All children will eventually suffer rejection; no one is immune to it. Some children bloom early, and some will have late growth spurts and puberty to improve their athletic ability.
There are very few athletes who make it to the professional level. Parents of young athletes would do well to keep these realities in mind. A little disappointment can benefit your child — if you teach them how to bounce back from it and cope with failure. The irony is that disappointments are beneficial for kids. Learning to deal with setbacks helps them develop key characteristics they’ll need to succeed, such as coping skills, emotional resilience, creative thinking, and the ability to collaborate.
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