As parents, we often want to encourage our kids to get active and moving. Often times that comes in the form of sports. I believe there are tons of lessons children can learn from team and individual sports! Things like endurance, sportsmanship, teamwork, agility, dedication, cause and effect and the list goes on and on!
Often times we don’t think about what sports teach kids about themselves and their families. Things like us attending the game or not can make the child feel important or unimportant. How we react to their win or loss can affect their self-esteem. They may tell themselves they aren’t good enough if they don’t get as much play time as others. So it begins, in the little league sports at around age 5, that we as parents get to be even more intentional about the messages we are sending to our kids about their physical activity.
Which brings me to the one thing we should never say to our kids who play sports….
That was a good game.
Or any derivative of it, really. “You played good.” “Great game, tonight.”
Why Should We Not Say That?
When we constantly tell children that they do things “good” they begin to try hard to continue to do them well for those praises. As a society we have become very use to making those general statements about people “doing good” at something. The children then have no specific guidance in what they did good so they try to do good all the time. This can create kids who work for perfection, fear mistakes and think they are loved conditionally for doing well.
What Can We Say Instead?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with praising your child! You should do that! I am recommending that the praise is more specific and based on their effort. Statements like: “I am proud of you for rebounding the ball so quickly! You must have been paying attention.” “You sure did run fast in tonight’s game! It looked like you have been practicing hard.” These kinds of statements give kids guidance on why they should be proud of themselves and helps them associate what efforts they put forth to yield the results.
Staying away from saying that one statement to your kid who plays sports can have a dramatic impact not only on their experiences with sports and physical fitness, but also how they perceive themselves and the world around them!
What kind of statements do you use after a sporting event to tell your kids you are proud of them?
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