Parenting a teenage athlete has its moments of fun and excitement, but can also be stressful and time consuming. Here are 7 tips for parents to bring out the best in their teenage athletes, and in themselves on the sidelines.
7 Tips for Parents of Athletes
1. Support your child on the field.
Cheer for your athlete in a positive and respectful manner. Be encouraging. Emphasize fun and effort, not results and winning.
2. Help your teen set attainable goals toward which to work.
Your child can’t control how fast the other swimmers at a meet swim, but he can strive to improve his own time.
3. Keep communication open.
Check in with your teen to ensure they are still enjoying their sport. Ask open-ended questions rather than just inquiring about the score of the game. Of course, discourage them from quitting midseason, but allow them to express concerns and feel comfortable voicing their doubts about continuing to play a sport once the season is over.
4. Encourage your teen to explore interests in addition to sports.
While being an athlete can help build self-esteem, it is important for teens to define themselves through a wider lens. A teen that derives all of his or her self-worth from a sport can be devastated if he has to give up that sport—either because he got cut or injured. A teen that defines himself in several ways, rather than exclusively as an athlete, will ultimately be a happier person.
5. Use recent news in professional sports.
This does not only to show how the hard work and dedication of some elite athletes, such as Aly Raisman, which is truly inspiring and paid off. News in professional sports also shows how the Lance Armstrong and Roger Clemens stories illustrate that using banned drugs is not the way to succeed.
6. Get to know your child’s coach.
Good coaches will not only foster team spirit and advance athletic abilities, but will also inspire your teen to play to their potential and grow personally without too much parental involvement. Teens should feel comfortable talking to their coach when problems occur.
7. Encourage plenty of sleep, balanced meals, and sports-free days.
Allow his or her body to rest. Also, promote balance between sports and non-sports activities and model healthy behaviors.