Make sure your children know that win or lose, scared or heroic, you love them, appreciate their efforts, and that you are not disappointed in them. This will allow them to do their best without fear of failure. Be the person in their lives they can look to for constant, positive encouragement. Try your best to be completely honest about your child's athletic capability, competitive attitude, sportsmanship and actual skill level.
Be helpful but don't coach them on the way to the wrestling tournament or on the way back, at breakfast, and so on. It is tough not to, but it is a lot tougher for children to be inundated with advice, pep talks, and often critical instruction. Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be "out there trying", to be working to improve their skills and attitudes.
Help them develop the feel for competing,
for trying hard, for having fun.
Try not to re-live your athletic life through your children in a way that creates pressure. You fumbled too, you lost as well as won. You were frightened, you backed off at times, you were not always heroic.
Don't pressure them because of your lost pride.
Don't compete with the coach. If the coach becomes an authority figure, it will run from enchantment to disenchantment, etc. with your athlete.
Don't compare the skill, courage, or attitudes of your children with other members of the team, at least within their hearing distance.
Get to know the coach so that you can be assured that his/her philosophy, attitudes, ethics, and knowledge are such that you are happy to have your children under his/her leadership.
Always remember children tend to exaggerate, both when praised and criticized. Temper your reaction and investigate before over-reacting. Make a point of understanding courage, and the fact that it is relative. Some of us can climb mountains, and are afraid to fight. Some of us will fight, but turn to jelly if a bee approaches. Everyone is frightened in certain areas.
Explain that courage is not the absence of fear, but a means of doing something in spite of fear or discomfort. The job of the parent of an athletic child is a tough one, and it takes a lot of effort to do it well. It is worth all the effort when you hear your youngster say, "My parents really helped. I was lucky to have the parents I have."
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