Parenting has never been an easy job, and now with many us working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also juggling our children’s schooling, the role has become increasingly difficult.
In any given year, “pre-pandemic,” we’ve all seen extremes of over- or under-parenting, both of which are not good for children, and sporting events seem to bring out the worst in some parents.
As we continue to navigate the new year and cope with various stressors, including health fears, economic hardship, disrupted routines, social isolation and more, it’s crucial to remember that our children are struggling as well; they need our patience, understanding and a little extra tender loving care (TLC).
Well-intentioned parents want what is best for their children, and what children, of all ages, need is love and support from their parents. To that end, we all need to remember that our children’s sports belong to our children. Sporting activities are for the education and entertainment of the kids and are supposed to be fun.
Parents with children involved in any sporting activity, in our case ice skating, need to make sure their children know that they are loved — win or lose. Praise them for their efforts and let them know you’re not disappointed if they fall. There’s always a next time and opportunities to practice and improve. Through ice skating, we’re building skills, self-confidence, self-esteem and physical fitness, and teaching self-discipline, perseverance and sportsmanship.
Every child needs to know that he or she has someone to count on for love and support, no matter what, and parents should fill that role. The number one question for parents to ask about any competition, exhibition, lesson or practice is, “Did you have fun?”
Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to be honest with themselves about their child’s athletic abilities, competitiveness, sportsmanship or level of skill. Not many children are future Olympians, and parents should be mindful not to impose their ambitions on their children. Remember that skating is your child’s activity, and each must progress at his or her rate. Neither you nor your child should judge progress based on what others have done or are doing. Leave the skills comparisons to the judges; that’s their job. Parents should avoid pushing their children based on parental expectations.
Respect the Coach
The relationship between parents, their child and the child’s coach is vital. This instructor helps to shape your child as a person. You need to know if you and the coach share values and ethics that will be passed on to the child, so get to know your child’s instructor, but leave the coaching to your paid professional. Children resent being inundated with advice, pep talks or criticism. Don’t try to teach them skating at the breakfast table, on the way to the rink, or from the stands.
Always respect the coach as a professional and don’t criticize your child’s coach in front of the child. The bond between a skater and coach contributes to the child’s success as well as fun. Help your child to understand that participation in any sport requires discipline, rules and regulations, and they must learn to accept constructive criticism as a means of improving their efforts.
Remember that children tend to exaggerate reports of praise or criticism. Listen to the reports they bring home from the rink, but temper your reactions. If you have concerns, make an appointment to discuss them with the instructor.
Set a Positive Example
The highlight of skating for many students is participation in competitions, shows or exhibitions, but if your child is reluctant or fearful, do not push and do not try to live your life through your child. Do not yell or belittle a fearful child; acknowledge the child’s fears and assure the child that his or her coach would not encourage participation if the child were not ready, and that you are there for the child. Teach your child that it takes courage to perform and that giving an honest effort, regardless of the outcome, is more important than winning. Help them to develop a healthy competitive attitude and joy in putting forth their best efforts.
When you attend a show or competition, you are there to be supportive of your child. Cheer, applaud and say only positive things. Set a positive example by not criticizing your child, other children, the coaches or judges. Teach your child to respect others by your example.
Skating promotes friendships and can be a lifetime sport filled with pleasure. Skating contributes to character and builds good people. Be happy your child wants to skate.