How Parents Can Encourage Kids Without Pressure

Encouraging Sports Kids

How to Avoid Pressuring Young Athletes

A sports parent asks:

“When should children be encouraged to push through the hard times and when is it okay for them to just take a break?”

At a certain point in your children’s athletic careers, all parents must ask themselves this question…

If you push your children too hard, you risk taking the fun out of the game for them, possibly prompting them to quit.

However, you want to encourage them to try their hardest when things get tough–to be resilient and not give up.

Pushing kids too hard at a young age will cause them to feel pressure, which can lead to under performance.

They’ll worry about what you as parents think instead of being in the moment and focusing on their immediate play.

They might second-guess themselves and avoid making mistakes, which will hurt their confidence.

Pressure is the main reason 70% of children quit sports by the age of 13!

If you don’t want your kids to join the ranks of the majority, be cautious about how you handle this situation.

First, you need to assess if your kids’ current coach or team is hurting their confidence in some way. If so, it makes sense to take a break or find a new team.

You don’t want your kids to lose confidence due to a bad coach or negative team culture.

If, however, your kids want to take a break because they are on a losing team, or don’t want to work so hard, or are afraid to take risks (out of fear of failure), you may want to encourage them to stick with it.

Encourage your kids to get out of their comfort zone and to overcome situations that are difficult—whether it’s a rainy season or a few tough games–this is a life lesson for them!

If they’re perfectionists, they may be afraid of failure. Help them identify high expectations and ask them to focus on what’s happening here-and-now, not on the score or their stats.

Give them a few “get out of jail” cards that make them feel more comfortable making mistakes.

Again, don’t pressure or punish them; just give them tips that will help them push through the hard times.

One great way to help kids enjoy sports more is to give them pregame strategies to boost their confidence.

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes

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The Ultimate Sports Parent

Every day, we receive letters from parents like you who want their children and teens to excel in sports. However, these parents can see fear, doubt, and frustration on the faces of their kids who struggle with the “inner” game of sports. But these parents have no idea how to help their kids overcome the worries, expectations and self-defeating thoughts that prevent their young athletes from feeling confident and successful.

You can benefit from our 15-plus years’ of work in sports psychology and sports parenting research. Now, you can tap into our secrets to sports success through a cutting-edge, 14-day program that helps young athletes overcome the top “mental game” challenges that sports parents face—and the top challenges young athletes face.

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