From a young age our children look to us, their parents, for affirmation and encouragement. When my son was just a toddler, I noticed him looking for my approval with every move he made. When we decided to put him in soccer, our role became even more magnified.
Every time he made contact with the ball, he looked at us, making sure we were watching and cheering him on. And I can’t imagine missing that shared memory! What if I had been on my phone? What if I had tuned out and turned away? With young athletes starting out in their sport, parents’ presence play a huge role in building self-esteem. It’s important that we devote time and attention to their efforts and skills.
Young athletes need affirmation. It’s what drives them on in their sport. They need coaches to be encouraging and supportive, they need parents and siblings to be there and lift them up, they need their teammates to act with kindness and sportsmanship.
As athletes progress and get older, building self-esteem doesn’t always come on the field. Schedules get busy around the house and both Mom and Dad can’t always make it to every practice and game. Or, perhaps, we attend the game, but need to help at concessions. There are practical reasons we can’t sit and share those memories with our athletes. Even when we can’t watch the kids from the stands, we can be proactive at home to build their self-esteem.
On days when scheduling conflicts arise, it’s important to acknowledge their event. Encourage them before they leave for school or practice. Wish them luck, stick a note in their lunch, do something to acknowledge that even with the busyness of life, you’re thinking of them and want them to succeed.
Even when your athlete is involved in a sport that doesn’t resonate with you personally, get involved. Practice with them, let them teach you about their sport. Let them wow you with their impressive skills. Show them that you are involved and care about the things that they care about.
Building self-esteem is a combination of words of affirmation and quality time. Affirm their efforts, their successes, and their passions. Spend quality time with them honing in on their craft. When your kids see that you’re excited for them, it builds them up in an indescribable way. As parents, we influence our kids with every move we make, so let’s make each move count!