Over the past few years, our kiddos have started participating in a multitude of sports. With each new activity, there are always so many new rules and lessons to be learned. As a parent, I have been surprised to find that sometimes there is more for me to learn than for my children.
Although soccer is one of our family’s most enjoyed sport, these lessons have really followed me when being a mother to a karate kid, football player, dancer, and the list goes on and on. Really just being a mom in general.
In my usual blog style, I have created a list of what I have learned as a “soccer mom.”
Youth sports can pick up speed fast.
One minute you are signing up for a little league and the next you are getting an email about trying out for select teams or travel teams. Do not jump to making a decision for your child. I will admit, it is so much easier said than done. We as parents naturally want to take what our kiddos love and help them achieve their highest level possible. But if we do not listen to our children and their thoughts, they can end up burnt out, or dreading an activity. It took a lot in me, but I was proud of myself for understanding and hearing my daughter when she said she was going to take a break from dance to explore other activities.
This is another difficult one, well honestly they all are. You may have a child or children that want to do EVERY activity. It is just not possible. While it is great to explore so that they can find their passion, we as parents need to set boundaries. Our children know schoolwork comes first. If we start slipping, we start revisiting the schedule to see if we need to adjust. Also, my husband and I try to stick with not having them do any more than two activities at a time. So for example, my son is currently in karate and Cub Scouts. When you pair that with our daughter’s karate and soccer and the other daughter’s soccer, well, it is very busy and we do not need to add to this. Boundaries are needed. You do not want a child that feels overworked and tired. Again, schoolwork can suffer and so can the passion they once had for an activity.
It is important to encourage your child. When my son first started basketball, it was frustrating. He struggled to dribble, struggled to shoot, struggled with everything. It would have been easy for me to yell at him and get frustrated. I will admit, sometimes I was frustrated because he wanted to play, but would space out or socialize. I realized, despite this, he was having fun. I kept encouraging him and I will never forget when he made his first basket in a game. He was so excited. I am thankful looking back that we stuck with encouraging him instead of potentially bringing him down and causing him to hate the sport.
Try not to helicopter (or coach) from the sidelines.
I am fairly confident any parent on my daughter’s soccer team is well aware that I am her mom. In all honesty, it has been a giant learning curve for me to not micromanage her as she learns and grows in soccer. I see her potential and believe in her because honestly, I could not have cared less about soccer prior to her starting. Post-children getting involved in the sport, I have grown to greatly enjoy it and have developed some passion for the game. (Any adult teams out there? Because I would love to play!) Anyways, I have had my bad moments of micromanaging and coaching from the sidelines. I have learned quickly, things change fast, positions change fast. We, as parents, are best to cheer and leave the coaching to the coaches! Nothing but encouragement should be coming out of your mouth during a game. If it is negative, save it. My daughter responds so much better to positive cheering and reinforcement when it is from me. Let your coach do the coaching; if they are a good coach, your player will respect them and listen.
Praise and positivity.
This is very similar to encourage, but I keep this one in the back of my mind for the end of every event/practice/game, etc. Focus on the positives and praise your child immediately after something. Try to avoid sentences where the praise is followed by “but” or “next time” if the praise is about to be followed with criticism. There will be plenty of time later on to work on areas to improve. Just focus on the positives in those moments. Especially after a hard defeat or when your child had a rough game and feels they did poorly. Focus on those positives! It can really build a child up in a time when they need it most.
Best of luck to you fellow momma, as you wear many caps through the years and learn how to be the best sports mom that you can be for your children. You will certainly learn many life lessons along the way!