Youth sports are a great way for kids to develop the habit of healthy physical activity while learning important social and emotional skills. Dealing with failure, developing realistic expectations and learning the benefits of striving for success are only some of the benefits of participating in individual or team sports.
The lessons learned from the stands are just as important as the lessons learned on the field. Teaching those lessons isn’t always easy. For instance, it can be infuriating to see your child disadvantaged by an unfair call. However, if you accept unfair referee decisions without losing your temper or yelling at officials, your child will see good sportsmanship in action.
Kids love to have their parents in the stands at practices and games. Being the star of the “mommy and daddy” show helps give them self-confidence and increases their enthusiasm for physical activity. From the parent’s perspective, however, seeing kids lose a competition can be difficult. Some parents take it personally, feeling that their children’s failures are their own failures. This isn’t true of course, but it can feel that way. Psychologists call this “over-identification”.
As parents, we want our children to excel on the playing field. It’s important to remember that participation in sports can be a winning experience even without a victory on the field. If you respond with love and support even on the losing days, it helps your child understand that your love is unconditional. This is how parents win from the stands.