Parenting Our Kids in Today’s Sports World – Part 3
12 Ways to Model a Winning Mentality at Home
The last two articles have addressed the common parenting faults we all fall victim to from time to time and what strategies you can do post practice and post game to serve your kids best. The final article will focus on more strategies that you can use with your student-athlete to promote a growth-mindset and mental fortitude. Working on a daily basis is best and don’t necessarily have to tie to sports but certainly can. The worst thing we can do is provide a false sense of the way the world works once they are on their own. We need to stay in touch with reality and keep them grounded.
Building mentally strong kids is something we all want for those we love the most. This does not mean we won’t let them feel emotions of sadness, failure, or loss. Life like sports will never go the way we expect. We are looking to help our kids respond to the adversity that life hands them in a positive way. To keep trying when it is hard, when they don’t know if they can do it, or a setback has occurred. Our kids need to know they have every opportunity to respond to a setback with a comeback. It is our job as parents and coaches to model this on a daily basis at our house, fields, parking lots, schools, etc.
The following is a list of way to continue to make sure that you are raising your kids in a way that won’t hurt them in the long run and promote a strong mental attitude now during their younger years that can continue to flourish as they become adults with jobs and families of their own.
1. Allowing a Victim Mentality
Striking out at a baseball game, not starting, or failing a math test doesn’t make your child a victim. Rejection, failure, and unfairness are a part of life.
Refuse to attend your kids’ pity parties. Teach them that no matter how tough or unjust their circumstances, they can always take positive action. Sometimes they have very little control of what goes on around them but total control of how they respond to it. Avoid blaming the teacher, umpire, or coach for the situation and shift the focus to what your son or daughter can do to change things or to not be in the situation again.
2. Expecting Perfection
Having high standards for your kids is great. But expecting them to be perfect is not healthy for them. Teaching your kids to fail is human and it’s OK not to be amazing everyday and that they will not be great at everything they do.
Focus your attention on being the best version of themselves. Don’t let them make their self-worth dependent upon how they measure up to others or how well they performed on the field or in the classroom. Perfection is unattainable this side of heaven.
3. Preventing Kids from Making Mistakes
Correcting your kids’ math homework, double checking to make sure they’ve packed their basketball gear, and constantly reminding them to do their chores won’t do them any favors. Natural consequences can be some of life’s greatest teachers.
Let them fail. Let them not live up to the expectations you have set for your house. Writing their English paper for them will serve your child no purpose. Let your kids mess up and show them how to learn from their mistakes so they can grow wiser and become stronger.
4. Who is Responsible for Your Kids’ Emotions?
Cheering your kids up when they’re sad because school didn’t go well today, calming them down when they’re upset they didn’t make first team, or trying to energize them when they are mopey means you take responsibility for regulating their emotions. Kids need to gain emotional competence so they can learn to manage their own feelings.
Proactively teach your child healthy ways to cope with their emotions so they don’t depend on others to do it for them. Encourage them to talk it out with their friend they got into an argument with, the coach who decided they are not going to be a starter, or pepping themselves up when feeling down. You are not in control of their emotions, they are. The sooner that is clear the better. It means you have to take a step back sometimes and not be their go to. Regulate your need to be validated be them needing you.
5. No Pain = No Pain
Many would say no pain, no gain. But some parents try to shield their kids from pain altogether. Hurt feelings, sadness, and anxiety are part of life. And letting kids experience those painful feelings gives them opportunities to practice tolerating discomfort. Kids must learn how to be uncomfortable. Too many kids these days get all the way through high school without really having to deal with pain and uncomfortable situations and they feel the effects later in life during college, relationships, and jobs.
Provide your kids with the guidance and support they need to deal with pain so they can gain confidence in their ability and skills to handle life’s valleys.
6. Kids Need Responsibilities
Letting kids skip out on chores or missing a team workout because they are tired can be tempting. After all, you likely want your kids to have a carefree childhood.
But, kids who perform age-appropriate duties aren’t overburdened. Instead, they’re gaining the mental strength they need to become responsible citizens. Allow your kids to be committed to something and see it through.
7. Taking Shortcuts to Avoid Discomfort
Although giving into a whining child or doing your kids’ chores for them will make your life a little easier right now, those shortcuts instill unhealthy habits in your kids. Kids need to understand the relationship between if…then. If I don’t pick up my room, then my parent cleans it up for me. If I am not starting that game, then my parents give me reasons why I should be and tell me how great I am.
Don’t the statements above sound ridiculous? Let your kids have discomfort. Allow them to live in a world where if I make a bad choice, then there is a consequence. Set a system up in your house that allows them to see that in life they are rewarded for good decisions and that for bad ones there is a consequence. An example could be, if I study for the test, then I can get a good grade. If I come to practice without proper equipment, then I am stuck with what I brought. Or I have to problem solving it on my own. Mom or dad will not bail me out. Stick to your expectations and rules to show your kids that you can resist tempting shortcuts. You’ll teach them that they’re strong enough to persevere, problem solve, and learn valuable lessons when they do screw up.
8. Confusing Discipline with Punishment
Punishment involves making kids suffer for their wrongdoing. Discipline and having consequences, however, is about teaching them how to do better in the future. Be firm and matter of fact but don’t make it punitive.
Raising a child who fears “getting in trouble” isn’t the same as raising a child who wants to make good choices. Use consequences that help your kids develop the self-discipline they need to make better choices.
9. Parenting Out of Guilt
Giving into guilty feelings teaches your child that guilt is intolerable. And kids who think guilt is horrible won’t be able to say no to someone who says, “Be a friend and let me copy your paper,” or, “If you loved me, you’d do this for me.”
Show your kids that even though you feel guilty sometimes–and all good parents do–you’re not going to allow your uncomfortable emotions to get in the way of making wise decisions.
10. Values First
Many parents aren’t instilling the values they hold dear in their children. Instead, they’re so wrapped up in the day-to-day chaos of life that they forget to look at the bigger picture. With the busy schedules and lists of things to do as a parents it is an easy trap to fall into.
Make sure your priorities accurately reflect the things you value most in life and you’ll give your children the strength to live a meaningful life. Consider listing them out to share with all and then follow-up with actions that parallel to what your family holds most important.
11. Making Their Kids the Center of the Universe
If you make your entire life revolve around your kids, they’ll grow up thinking everyone should cater to them. Miss a game now and then. Have them come up with the plan for dinner. Heck have them even make it. Most of us know self-absorbed, entitled adults aren’t likely to get very far in life.
Teach your kids to serve others rather than having the mindset of how others can serve them.
12. Allowing Fear to Dictate Their Choices
Although keeping your kids inside a protective bubble will spare you a lot of anxiety–playing it too safe teaches your child that fear must be avoided at all times. This goes right along with pushing them to feel uncomfortable. Find ways to put them in situations that might be scary to them. Ride a roller coaster they have always avoided, talk to a teacher they don’t have a good relationship with, or approach a coach about playing time.
Show your kids that the best way to conquer fear is to face those fears head-on and you’ll raise courageous kids who are willing to step outside their comfort zones.
I would love to work with your program to provide the 1PW Mentality to those who are apart of it. If you are interested in setting up the player workshop, parent seminar, and coaching consult please let me know. All three are included when I work with teams.
God Bless and Happy Holidays!
Coach Justin Dehmer