As a parent, you know all about habits–good and bad. You see it as your child practices habits at home, in school and even in sports.
As parents, you also have habits. And if your child plays youth sports, you will make choices in how you parent that will become habits. Those habits will affect your child’s youth sports experience. In my new booklet 11 Habits of Happy and Positive Sports Parents, I talk about habits that will make you and your child’s experience in youth sports much more enjoyable.
I want to share one of those habits with you now: the habit of thinking realistically.
You’ve probably heard the daunting statistics of athletes who actually get college scholarships, or even end up playing professionally.
Let me give you a for-instance. According to College Scholarships site, 3% of male high school basketball players will play in the NCAA; 3.3% for women. The percentage of women basketball players who will end up playing professionally after playing in college is 1%; for men it’s 1.2%. And the statistics are similar for other sports.
I do not say this so that you will squash your child’s dreams with the facts, I say this so that you will squash your own efforts to make your child into something that he or she may not really want to be, or into someone that they are not gifted to be.
It’s one thing to believe in your child, to support him and let him reach for the stars. It’s another to force your child to be something she is not.
When your child is little, let him or her dream big. At 6, when my son started playing flag football, he wanted to be the next Dan Marino. We didn’t squash that dream; we let him go after it. He played quarterback all the way through college. But life has a way of reshaping dreams and when he was in high school, it became evident that he was probably not going to be another Dan Marino. However, that dream set him on a path as a little boy that helped him become the man he is today.
He ended up playing D3 football and even though he wasn’t a star player there, his college football days were a huge growing expe- rience for him and helped shape him into a strong person.
Thinking realistically doesn’t mean that we become wet blan- kets that suffocate our kids’ fire; it simply means that we don’t make them fit into a mold that doesn’t fit. It’s hard to admit that your child may not be the amazing athlete that you think he or she is. If you are the only one who thinks your child is a phenom and absolutely no one–not other coaches, teammates, family, or friends–sees what you think you are seeing, then chances are, you do not have an objective and clear assessment of your child’s athletic ability. If your child is truly talented, others will see it besides you.
Thinking realistically simply means that you are honest about your child’s abilities, that you believe in him as he does his very best, and that you let her follow where her dreams lead as she works hard to achieve them.
Be a fan, always. But take off the rose-colored glasses. It’s okay if your kid doesn’t go pro.
Learn about the other 10 Habits of Happy and Positive Sports Parents in Janis’ new book 11 Habits of Healthy and Positive Sports Parents. You can order the book on Amazon.