Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
In a thin book, thick with advice, called 11 Habits of Happy and Positive Sports Parents, sports parenting expert Janis B. Meredith explores why some parents sit in the stands happy while others are negative and complaining.
We all want what is best for our children. We want them to experience and benefit from all swimming has to offer and we want to keep them in the game. Think about how much easier it would be to go through the years as a swim parent smiling and positive rather than unsure and anxious. Meredith explains that positive sports parents make choices that they practice over and over until they become habits.
Here are three of my favorite habits from her list of 11 habits of happy sports parents:
Express Unconditional Love
Of course we love our kids, but Meredith makes the point that we need to let them know it often. Say “I love you” and that “you love to watch them swim.” Let them know we’re proud when they give it their all. Kids pick up on our body language and nonverbal cues. When we show frustration in the stands, our children may think we love them only when they win or get best times—not when they swim slowly.
According to Meredith, “Comparing your child to another athlete or sibling may seem like an efficient motivational tactic, but actually its effect is short-lived, if it even has an effect. I tried it a few times and what was the result? My kids got angry.” She said to let your children know that the talents of other kids have nothing to do with them. Our kids are their own persons with their own levels of abilities and interests. Kids also grow and develop differently, accomplishing skills at their own pace.
See the Big Picture
“I’ve been there, sitting on the edge of my seat, biting my nails, and feeling my stomach do flip-flops. It’s easy to forget that there’s anything other than this game, this match, this competition,” Meredith said. Swimming is fun and exciting. There may be opportunities to travel to big meets and earn a college scholarship. But the big picture is who do our children become because of swimming? We want them to become adults with strength, a strong work ethic, integrity and compassion for others.
What other habits do you see that happy and positive sports parents have in common?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog: http://bleuwater.me/.