The time of year we sometimes find ourselves lying awake in bed at night stressing over the future of our young soccer player.
The time of year we find our hearts beating in our throats as we drop our kids off to a game or practice, trying not to put too much pressure on them to perform well but wanting to make sure they know that every single touch they have on the ball, or run they make off the ball, or communication they have with the coach – could have an impact on their name being on the final roster.
The time of year we, as parents, can so easily slip from level-headed and supportive parent to CRAZY SOCCER PARENT.
How can we become so irrational?
It is SO HARD to watch our children, so young and innocent, have to battle for a position on the team.
It is SO HARD – especially in our society today where EVERYONE’S A WINNER!– to allow our children to put their heart and body out there – AND POSSIBLY LOSE.
We do our best to keep our stress from our child. We don’t talk too much about the tryouts or soccer, we don’t ask too many questions about how training was, we don’t outwardly let our kids know what is going through our mind….BUT WE ARE GOING CRAZY INSIDE.
Sleeping is hard….
Tears sometimes well up in our eyes at odd moments…(okay, this may be a bit dramatic).
We find ourselves obsessing about our child’s performance (in our head, mind you) every single time they touch the ball in a game.
What is happening? We are usually rather rational parents….Why are we doing this?
WE DON’T WANT THEM TO LOSE.
We don’t want them to have to go through the disappointment of not making a team and feeling excluded.
We don’t want them to suffer.
All of the crazy emotions are simply a result of our instinct to protect our children…In this case, from the pain of REAL COMPETITION.
In real competition – people win and lose.
In real life – people win and lose.
So – with the hope of calming a few of you out there, with the aim of giving a couple of parents on the verge of becoming a CRAZY SOCCER PARENT a better night’s sleep – LET IT GO!
How many times have we reflected on the shift in our society to this everyone wins mentality?
How many times have we told our kids the story of:
“In Field Day at my elementary school people won and lost. Individuals would win ribbons for each event and at the end of the day there would be an overall Champion Class and a Champion Boy and Champion Girl WINNER based on who had accumulated the most ribbons.”
Or told the story of:
“I had to play 4 seasons of Little League baseball before I ever won a trophy and I won it because we finally beat the Orange Crush in the championship game.”
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Or personally reflected on the value of the trophy our child proudly displayed on the dresser in their room because they had the distinct honor of FINISHING THE SEASON!
So here were are – right in the middle of the lesson we’ve been wanting to teach our children – the direct opposite lesson that the Finishing the Season trophy gave them…AND IT’S HARD. IT’S UNCOMFORTABLE. IT’S STRESSFUL.
But we must embrace this lesson in REAL COMPETITION for the long term, positive impact this process will ultimately have on our children.
Rest easy parents on the verge of becoming a CRAZY SOCCER PARENT and do everything you can to prepare you children for the competition:
- Tell them how proud you are of them for being willing to battle.
- Tell them you believe in them and support them always.
- Tell them that you will love them more than they can possibly understand regardless of if they make the team or not.
- Tell them that life is full of competition and that they are always going to have benchmarks and moments where they will be graded or evaluated so they need to be brave and confident and work hard.
- Tell them that even if they are scared or anxious that they should look the coaches in the eye and shake their hands and thank them for the opportunity.
- Tell them to simply have fun out there and love the game.
Isn’t that ultimately what we want out of all of this? For our children to walk away from their sports careers as individuals who:
- Are willing to work hard and battle in life,
- Are confident of their family support and love,
- Are able to deal with the stress of being evaluated in a work environment,
- Can look someone in the eye and shake their hand even when they are nervous,
- Will face the challenges of life each and every day with a positive attitude.
We always talk about the benefits of sports being the lessons sports teach us in life.
Well – here we are – front and center – TRY OUTS…a perfect lesson…
For parents and kids alike.