You’re a sports lover, aren’t you? You have to be to dedicate the time, money and effort that you do into supporting your child at the sport they love.
You’re the one that goes out of their way to make sure they get to practice on time, have all the gear they need and do their best.
I wish I could pin a medal on your chest and say Thank You. They might not always show their appreciation for what you do, and I can.
But, what’s your relationship like?
Can your athlete talk to you about anything?
Do they willingly and openly come home and tell you everything about their practice or game day goings-on, without being prompted?
Are you happy being around each other, or is there tension?
I’m asking because often I think we, as parents, get too caught up in the ‘doing’ for our child and forget about their emotional wellbeing.
Their emotional wellbeing is just as important, if not more important, than all the rest of the things you’re doing. Without the right mental health, their game, and life for that matter could go completely off the rails.
Sure, teenagers might not always open up naturally. That’s a mix of them finding out who they are, the hormones of change and their personality or life traits.
And, if they know and really feel, deep inside them, that you’re there for them, they will. When it’s right for them.
One sure-fire way to upset your relationship is to be the back-seat coach.
Don’t you think they have enough pressure on them already? Their teachers are wanting them to get good grades and show how they are progressing academically. Their sports coach is putting pressure on them to be better, perform better and help the team win.
And their biggest critic and the one putting the most pressure on themselves is them. They will have a raft of thoughts running around in their heads about all three of you – their teachers, their coach and you. They are already their biggest critic; they don’t need another one in you.
Oh, and I forgot to mention peer pressure too. That’s the last straw on the camel’s back sometimes.
So, think about your relationship and notice if the following things are part of it
- Do you ask them a question and really listen to their answer?
- Can you have a conversation where a lot of the time they’re talking and you’re listening?
- When you are having a conversation how much advice do you give them?
Spend a few weeks just noticing these three things alone. And each time you notice you are or aren’t doing these things, stop and pause and be silent.
For example, if you notice yourself giving them lots of advice, telling them where they went wrong, what they should have done, STOP; pause, take a breath and look at their face. Notice their expression. And take a moment to see how they are feeling. What do you notice from their expression?
If your child starts a conversation, notice how you jump in. Notice if you really hear them. Could you tell me what they talked about and more importantly how they were feeling when they spoke to you? If you aren’t silent and paying attention you miss the emotion they convey. This can lead to much bigger problems, if unattended to.
Depression, anxiety, stress all of these things are emotion-based. The more you begin to tune into your child’s emotions the more you can learn to provide the sort of support they really need.
I know it might be hard, but there is more to life than hockey. I realize that sometimes it might not feel like it, especially if your child is focused on making it to the next level. The strength of your relationship will live on after hockey, so make sure it is the relationship that endures.
Karen Cherrett is a Sports Mindset Coach who specializes in coaching hockey players. Your game is only as good as your mindset. 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.