It's a healthy response to cheer when your child scores that home run or point during a tennis match. However, even in light of finding out that your child excels in a given sport, it is essential that you keep her athletic talent in perspective. As a parent, you should demonstrate that your love for your child is not based on her continuing to perform well in the athletic field, but rather on who she is as a person. Your attitude in this area could affect your child -- and your relationship with her -- for life.
Assure your child that you love her in spite of the outcome of her game. As the Kids Health website suggests, you should refrain from displaying the attitude that only winning matters. If she fears a loss will invariably lead to her facing an angry parent who will harshly take her to task, it could cause her to develop a perfectionist attitude that will prevent her from trying anything new unless she's 100 percent certain that she can perform it without making mistakes.
2. Respect for Authority
Your children learn from you when it comes to respect for those in authority. If this is a value you want to instill in your child, an excellent time to model the appropriate behavior is when a referee calls a foul on her, or cites her in basketball for traveling (holding the ball instead of dribbling or passing it). If your child sees your disrespectful, and possibly even violent, behavior towards that official, then your child is likely to receive that as a signal that she should treat a teacher, a boss, a minister or other authority figure in a similar manner. On the other hand, if she sees you graciously accepting the decision, then your child is likely to follow your lead.
3. Stress and Anxiety
Engaging in a practice that sports psychology consultant Jim Taylor, Ph.D, calls "overmatching" can lead to stress in your child. This involves enrolling her in multiple summer sports camps, or scheduling a large amount of summer practices for her when all she may simply want is time to ride a bicycle, participate in sleepovers or go out for pizza. If you do such things, it could actually cause her to develop a negative attitude towards the sport, even though she's continuing to do it to please you.
4. Importance of Academics
Your child also takes cues from you in stressing athletics over academics, and vice-versa. If you become more frustrated with her for losing a tennis match than you would for failing a math or English test, she will get the message that you're more interested in her success on the tennis court than in the classroom. Showing a greater amount of concern for the latter, indeed, represents a greater investment in her future than attempting to develop her into the next Venus or Serena Williams or Billie Jean King.
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