Junior Zap is playing hockey, but he's not very good. Dad, watching from the bleachers, gets embarrassed when his son falls all over the ice. He thinks that all the other fathers are looking at him. Then Dad remembers what it was like when he was starting to play hockey and his own father was embarrassed. It made Dad feel sad and disappointed in himself that he couldn't please his father back then. Dad decides that he doesn't want his son to feel that way now, and he realizes that no matter what Junior Zap's skill level is, he is proud of his son and proud of the effort he is making.
Every child's interests and abilities are different. As a parent, you must be careful not to set standards too high for your child's capabilities. Putting too much pressure on a young child can spoil his fun and make him feel like he's not good enough. Be careful about pushing a child into activities before he's ready.
Parents tend to parent the same way that they were parented. This is not always a good thing. You have to think about what you're doing, not do it from habit or tradition.
An organized sport or activity can be excellent for children as long as it is their choice to stay in it or leave it after they have given it a chance. Keep providing opportunities, but accept your child's choice.
Organized sport can put a lot of pressure on young children. It may also create an atmosphere of competition that puts pressure on parents. You have to resist this pressure, keep your perspective, and remember that life is not lived on a playing surface.
Praise and encourage attempts to try new things and to deal with frustrating situations. The development of self-esteem is prevented or damaged when parents ridicule their children, make them feel ashamed, punish them for unsuccessful attempts, or expect perfection or constant success. You shouldn't expect more of your child than he is capable of for his age and development.
Food for Thought:
- Would you be embarrassed if your child seemed to be doing poorly compared to other children? Why? How would you deal with this?
- Do you want to repeat some of the ways your parents raised you, that you thought were good? What about things you want to do differently? How can you and your partner work together to overcome unwanted ways of parenting?
- How can parents help children focus on doing their best and avoid making competition too important?