In a recent BYS Timeout Post, I counseled a parent who was unsure how to guide his child through the team sports journey and it got me to thinking about my own experience. For the past 12+ years while my daughter, Sydney, was in school, she would come home and every day I would ask, “Hey sweetie, how was school today?” She would respond, “It was fine.” We just chewed the fat in a meandering sort of way — I never forced the school conversations because I trusted what was going on; I didn’t need to be there to observe every experience and interaction of her day. I trusted the teachers; she was in a safe place.
In stark contrast, when it comes to sports we always seem to be there, so there’s little reason to ask how it’s going — we know, at least from our perspective, how it’s going, and we often spend inordinate amounts of time telling our kids how they’re doing. I think we would engage more effectively with our children if we asked them how they feel about the experience, rather than proactively telling them what we see. Some great questions to ask your kids are:
- Hey, son, did you have fun out there today?
- Are you enjoying yourself?
- What do the coaches do that make your sports experience more enjoyable? And
- What do they do that makes your experience less enjoyable?”
Wouldn’t it be great to hear these things from our kids so we know what’s making them happy and what’s making them sad? How about this question, “How do you want me to cheer for you during the games?” Our kids are always seeing us out there yelling and screaming. We’re there for our children, but we never know whether they want us to be cheering or whether they would prefer that we be quiet. What do they hear when we cheer? Maybe we think we’re cheering, but their message may be, “You know, Dad, you’re yelling out too many instructions to me.” Or “You know Dad, I heard you when you were critical of the referee or critical of my coach. That doesn’t make me comfortable out there.” How do we know those things unless we listen to our kids?
I hope you have a great September and I’d love to get your thoughts and suggestions for new Timeout topics. If you haven’t “liked” us on Facebook yet, please connect with us and let us know how you and your child are doing.