Sports Parent Pledge: Helping your child learn from failure

Not many events in life can cause more distress than witnessing your child experience failure. Whether it’s watching them strike out during a baseball game or learning that they performed poorly on a school test, it can be heart-wrenching to see your child fall short of their goals and become disappointed in themselves. 

However, it’s important to separate yourself from your child’s failure so that you can use it as an opportunity to teach them the value of perseverance and how to deal with setbacks and losses in a positive way.

Here are some tips:

  • Let your child know that their mistake is not who they are: Often children blend who they are with their mistakes. They may feel like they are a “bad” person if they think they played “badly,” for example, by striking out or letting a goal get by them. But don’t let your child confuse their performance with their self-esteem; remind your child that everyone makes mistakes and experiences setbacks and failure while playing sports – even good people – and that it’s all simply a part of the learning process.
  • Help them learn from mistakes: We all learn by trial and error and mistakes can actually enhance the learning experience. Learning from mistakes is part of how children are challenged and learn to do things differently and to try new approaches. You can help them by sharing a story of one of your own childhood struggles and what you learned from it.
  • Express love: Make sure your child knows that your love for them is not based on how well they play the game or whether they make the all-star team. Even if your child does know this, it never hurts to reinforce the message! Children need the support and courage to fail, and to get back on the field or court to try again. Ask your child what they thought they did well during the game: Did they block a shot or display good sportsmanship? Have your child reflect on the positive aspects of their performance. Also, make sure you praise them for the things they did well instead of directing attention on the negatives.

Perseverance and good sportsmanship are just a couple of the life lessons sports teach children. Take a few moments in between the hustle and bustle of practices and games to discover a greater side of sports together with your child.

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