For those parents who pace the sidelines, hover behind home plate, or stand up and yell from the bleachers, I have one suggestion that I think might really help you enjoy your child’s game more: sit down and watch.
You may be blowing off nervous energy, offering “helpful” advice to your child during the game, or really focusing on every little piece of your child’s performance, but the bottom line is this: you are so emotionally invested in how your child plays that you simply cannot relax.
If that’s you -- the parent who can’t stand in one place, or the parent who does stand in one place that is intentionally very visible to your child -- then I’d like to suggest that the next time your child plays, bring a comfortable lawn or bleacher chair and sit down to watch the game.
Here’s why sitting down is good for you and good for your child:
It gives you a broader perspective
If you are following your child up and down the field, you are obviously only focusing on him/her, and any time parents are only focused on their child, they miss a lot of the game. Sit back, see the whole field or court, and observe the whole game. It could give you a clearer picture of the why behind the what.
It brings opportunities for casual conversation
If you are sitting with other parents, you are much more likely to start talking. This will do two things: it will help you get to know folks and even make some new friends, and it will distract you a bit from being intensely focused on every little thing your child does. Not that I want you to miss his/her amazing feats, but a bit of a diversion now and then brings you back to the real world and keeps you from taking youth sports way too seriously.
It keeps you out of your child’s head
Your child already has a coach; he does not need you giving him instructions during the game. In fact, you will be a distraction. Let your child focus on what his coach is saying and on his game.
It could help you relax
Of course, there’s no guarantee that sitting down will help you relax, but if you are comfortable in a lawn chair, you might be able to unwind and actually enjoy the view. Relaxed people enjoy things way more than the tense ones.
It will help your child relax
When you are not hovering, pacing, and showing your emotions in a myriad of other ways, your child will most likely relax and maybe even play better. Seeing and hearing your tension will only make him/her more tense and no athlete can do their best when they are worried about what their parents are thinking.
Every now and then -- when the game is tight or your child is facing a big challenge -- you may understandably feel the need to get up and pace a bit. I’ve been there, but I did my best to not let my child see me do it.
The goal is for you to sit down physically, so that you will be “sitting down” inwardly and loosening up enough to thoroughly experience the joy of watching your child play. Try it for a season and it could end up being the most fun season you’ve had in youth sports yet!
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