The Best Way to Coach Your Child After a Game
It’s not uncommon for parents to want to coach their child immediately following a game, especially if the child performed poorly and appears to need some instruction. Unfortunately, coaching a kid who is already feeling bad right after a tough game is actually the worst time to coach. Instead, try and hold off for a few hours (or better yet, until the next day), and shift the focus away from coaching to simply being a loving, supporting parent.
When parents try to immediately coach (sometimes before even making it to the car), kids haven’t had the chance to purge their emotions yet, much less be in a good position to calmly sit through and fully understand what they did wrong on the field. In fact, when parents coach too soon, often what occurs is even more frustration and anger.
There will always be time to coach the day after a game, but for the moments that immediately follow a game try the following instead:
- Allow your child time and space. Don’t feel as though you have to immediately talk once you get in the car — in fact, some silence can be a good thing and allow everyone to get their emotions in check.
- Praise effort! Even if your child had the worst game ever, try to offer positive reinforcement for the efforts made. By recognizing effort, you will help develop belief and confidence for the future, as well as ward off unnecessary arguing about mistakes made earlier in the game.
- Use open-ended, solution-searching questions. Rather than ask questions that might come across as sarcastic or condescending (i.e. “why did you make that bad pass?”), try and re-frame the question in a more healthy way (i.e. “talk to me about how you might do that play differently if you had another shot”).
- Surprise your child. Chances are the last thing your child thinks you are going to do is go for an ice cream cone after a lousy game, but this might just be the best thing you can do. This advice is not to suggest that losing is irrelevant, but instead to make the point that sometimes the best teaching lessons can be had through unexpected experiences that are based in loving your kid. And lets face it, kids are far more apt to talk while enjoying an ice cream cone rather than feeling ganged up on while riding in the backseat of a car.
The big takeaway here is that there will always be time to coach, but trying to coach too quickly when emotions are high may be the worst time to do it. Instead, provide love and support (and good listening), get a good night’s sleep, and then go back to the drawing board the next day.
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