By Rosemarie C. Lister, MPH
- Cultivate the Possibilities: Skill can be acquired through practice and motivation. Although many believe in innate/natural talent, research shows motivation to be a more important factor in the development of expertise. Every child, regardless of their initial ability, has the potential to develop the skills needed for their sport if they are motivated, open to learning and practice.
- Time Out: Recognize when you or someone else needs to take a breather. Remove yourself from a situation/game/practice when you feel yourself becoming enraged or frustrated. If you see someone else becoming frustrated encourage them to do the same.
- Cool Down: Refrain from sending an email, text or picking up the phone when you feel your frustration levels are too intense. Use stress strategies: Practice the three day wait, talk to a friend or a family member (other than your child) to share your frustrations. Try to find the positive approach to situations. Use humor to lighten a heavy situation.
- Keep issues in perspective: Is this situation worth jeopardizing relationships with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues? Learning from disappointments can have lasting effects on building character and resiliency. Provide the opportunity for your children to learn from their challenges.
- Be a role model: This is a challenge to live but the results can have extremely long lasting benefits. Let other's witness your tolerance, respect and appreciation for coaches, other adults, students and game officials. Be a real winner; find ways to support and get involved in your community.
- Get Out: Just as we need to escape the pressures of work, the same needs to be done for our sports. If your schedule consists of mainly work/school and sports then the stress from work/school can transfer into sports. Leave our school district and do something else for the day. A change of scenery has proven to measurably reduce our anxiety and stress as well as bringing clarity and balance to situations.
- Separate your experiences from your child: Their experiences today shape their relationships for tomorrow. The choices they make need to be their own. Establish open lines of communication.
- Stay Open to the Choices: Take advantage of the variety of sports that are offered. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding early sports specialization. "Those who participate in a variety of sports and specialize only after reaching the age of puberty tend to be more consistent performers, have fewer injuries, and adhere to sports play longer than those who specialize early."
- Listen: We can't fix everything. Most of the time the best course of action is to just listen.
- Enjoy: Being part of a team and playing sports are experiences to be embraced and enjoyed. Above all, young athletes want to have fun.
A Community Health Promotion and Education Handout by Rosemarie C. Lister, MPH
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National Association of Sports Officials: "Poor Sportsmanship Behavior Incidents Reported by NASO"
American Academy of Pediatrics: Intensive Training and Sports Specialization in Young Athletes Committee on Sports Medicine and Fitness; Pediatrics Vol. 106 No. 1 July 2000, reaffirmed 2006, 2010
Scientific American: "The Expert Mind" Philip E. Ross August 2006
Center for Economic Policy and Research: "No Vacation Nation" Rebecca Ray & John Schmitt 2007