Q & A - How Do You Help Your Child To Stay Focused During Uncertain Times
From this week we are starting a weekly Question and Answer post.
Post any questions you have on our Facebook or Instagram pages and we will answer them in a subsequent reply post here on our blog.
Here is our Week One Question
"We are starting to hear what the season might be like here. And obviously it's not a regular one. So how do we keep Logan's mind on making a rep team, just later than expected? We won't have tryouts until at least December if at all this season." - nhllogan2013
Thanks for your question nhllogan2013.
It's such a great thing to make the Representative Squad.
Having Fun & Skills Focus Will Help
If you've been reading my posts you'll know that I talk a lot about fun. It's important to keep anything related to playing hockey fun. The more fun, the less stress.
So, what fun is Logan having this Summer and how does it connect to his hockey?
You might say "what he's doing doesn't connect" and I would ask you to stop and consider what he is really doing. Is he using his analytical and critical thinking ability whilst he's spending hours gaming?
Is he playing baseball and therefore honing his hand-eye coordination?
Running around, cycling, anything outdoors that he's doing are all keeping him fit and contributing to stamina building.
Maybe the best way to help Logan prepare for making a Rep team is by letting him have fun.
You might also begin to talk to him about what he thinks the skills are that are key to making the Rep team. Then ask him about how confident he is with those skills in himself.
If he says he thinks he needs to practice more in one area, find some new fun drills for him to do.
The focus for him doesn't have to be the 'Representative Team.'
For him, it's about being the best he can be at his skill level, without his mind getting in the way.
If he can do that when it comes time for tryouts, he will be seen; he will stand out because his natural ability will shine.
Now Let's Talk About the Mental Aspect
Joining a new team or group can be scary. Funnily enough, we probably don't consider the stress for children at the start of a new school year when they step into the unknown of a new teacher and new classmates.
Thinking about being part of the Representative team is no different.
Logan may or may not already know some of the others on the team. Of the ones he knows he might be thinking that they are better than he is, for example.
He may even be already comparing himself to the other 'unknown' players who could try out for the team.
Anything you can do to boost his own self-esteem levels will help.
Helping him realise that making the Representative team is not really about how good or bad he is compared to others, but about how good he is at HIS skills.
If he comes to understand that it's all about HIS focus, HIS determination, HIS ability to play his own natural style of hockey, that will help immensely.
Sometimes it's valuable to use a real-life example and talk through it with him. That would look like this:
Child: Davey is faster than me
Parent: Okay, so tell me more about that. When was Davey faster than you? [get your child to use a specific example of when they skated together and he was faster than them]
Child: When we did drills at practice today and we had to go between the blue lines. He finished first.
Parent: So you did the drill, where you both started at the same time and he got back first?
Parent: Then, yes, in that one instance Davey was faster than you. What can we do to help you get faster?
Notice here that we have helped the child see that in reality, in that one situation, Davey was faster AND that doesn't have to mean that is how it will stay.
Having these types of conversations helps break down your child fear, the things that they are thinking and worrying about, and finding a way to change the situation either by working on a skill or changing their mental frame of reference.
Or, in some instances having them realise that it is something that won't change and they need to find a way to accept that. This is a hard one for children to understand at times, and eventually, they tend to see it.
Preparing Him For New Team Dynamics
Becoming part of a new team, no matter how skilled Logan is, will take a little time.
Firstly the whole group will need to see where he fits. This happens when the group comes together and checks each other out.
Talk to him about how it might not be easy, initially, when he makes the team. Chat about how it takes a while for others to get to know him, and that it's okay to feel left out or different.
Remind him that if he makes the team he has been chosen. Chosen for his skill level and his play.
Explain that once the group get to know him, he'll feel better. You might like to have the conversation about starting a new school year, and how quickly things settle into the new normal.
It may be valuable to ask him directly what he's worried about if he makes the team? Any conversations you can have with him that relate to how he feels and specifically talking about emotions is valuable.
Supporting him to mentally break down any worries or concerns he has before making the team will make for an easier transition when that occurs.
It is also valuable to talk about the reality of the situation. There will be others on the team who have been there longer. They may be older too. And again explain that he was chosen to be a part of the team because of HIS skills and abilities.
Try and support him to see that comparing himself to others only makes him feel bad. And it doesn't support him to play at his best when he's on the ice.
Focusing On the Facts
This is a difficult time with timelines and schedules for everything shifting due to COVID 19.
Talking to Logan about the reality of the situation may or may not help. Whilst he might want to tryouts to happen NOW, we all know that isn't going to happen. And of course, if that's really what he wants, that is where his focus will be.
Unfortunately focusing too much on the future only creates stress.
Perhaps setting up a skills calendar for him that focus on improving his skills each week may help. This might support him to take the focus off the time it is taking for tryouts to occur.
Let me know if any of this helps.
Karen Cherrett is a Sports Mindset Coach who specializes in coaching hockey players. Karen coaches players to be more focused and play with ease, not stress. And their parents to support their child in the best possible way. Life playing hockey should be fun. Mindset matters. Mental health matters. Hockey should be fun, not emotionally overloading.