How to be a mindful parent when it comes to kids and sports

These days, everyone wants to incorporate more mindfulness into their lives. We might try breathing techniques or go for meditation walks or be more thoughtful about what we eat. But how much do we think about being a mindful parent?

When it comes to our kids’ activities, being aware of our own behaviour, motivations, and choices has a huge impact on whether our child will experience their activity as a positive part of their lives or a burden that they do to make us happy.

Dr. Adam Wright tackled this topic over at MindBodyGreen.

He touches on strategies every parent can put in place to make sure that they are going into their child’s journey with sports or other activities with the right frame of mind. You should read the article for his complete recommendations. Here are the highlights:

Check your ego

A good reminder that your child’s performance doesn’t reflect on you and is not about you. Dr. Wright writes, “Be mindful of falling into the ‘reverse dependency trap,’ in which a parent overidentifies with their child’s sports experience and measures their personal self-worth through her or his child’s success on the field.”

Forgo comparisons

Kids all develop at their own pace and on their own timeline. Dr. Wright encourages parents not to worry about how other kids are performing. “While competition can be a driving force toward actualizing one’s athletic potential, direct your child to become competitive with her previous accomplishments, not another teammate’s.”

Think long-term

Dr. Wright asks parents to focus on the joy in learning and developing and not to become too fixated on short-term results. He writes, “Emphasize process and performance over winning so that sports does not become an ‘outcome-focused enterprise.’ The only path to long-term success in sports is to allow kids the freedom to learn to love playing the game on their own terms.”

Model appropriate behaviour

Dr. Wright believes parents should be mindful of their behaviour on the sidelines, keeping things upbeat and stress-free. “This will provide a positive behavioural model when positioned next to overly emotional and inappropriately behaved parents.”

Avoid early specialization

Remember that in the early years, it’s best to introduce children to multiple sports and activities so that they can find what they love, develop lots of skills, and avoid burning out or injuring themselves. As Dr. Wright puts it, “To force a child to play a single sport before age 12, without developing essential motor patterns and general physical literacy is not only shortsighted but also dangerous. Repeat this mantra: diversification over specialization.”

A mindful approach is necessary as you make choices with your child about what they want to do, what program or league they will join, what the time commitment is, your questions for them after they participate, and how you talk to them about their activity or sport in general. Keeping these tips in mind will help you stay on course and prioritize your child and their development.

 

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