Competition can be extremely stressful, especially for children and teenagers. They can feel so much pressure that they will literally worry themselves sick. Kids will oftentimes try to prove their worth to themselves, their coaches, their peers, and their families through winning. Anxiety and the fear of failure affect their performance—which makes them even more fearful. It becomes a vicious cycle!
I recently wrote an article in conjunction with renowned PGA Tour Golf Instructor, Boyd Summerhays, on ways to best help Junior Golfers. After completing the article, it dawned on me that the information would be beneficial to all junior athletes and their families. Obviously, the intricate details about golf in the article are unique to golfers, but the same concepts (bolded section headings) can definitely be applied to any sport or competition that your child is engaging in:
Are you crafty? Do you enjoy sewing or making elaborate designs to adorn your house or entertain your children? I’ll admit that craftiness is not really my thing; I prefer musical expression and writing, but everyone has different creative outlets, and for some, crafts are enjoyable and fun!
Games are a fun family activity. But how important is winning for children? Should parents play full out, or are there times when they should let kids win?
In an article that’s going viral, a blogger who goes by The Lunchbox Dad says when he and wife “play board games, sports, card games, or hopscotch with our kids-we don’t let them win. We never have.”
LCSW Julie Hanks had the opportunity to discuss this topic with other Studio 5 contributors. Her main view was that games are a good way to teach children that accomplishments do not equal self-worth. If a child loses, a parent can help him/her understand that winning isn’t everything. This is an opportunity to model what a good winner….and a good loser looks like. The comfort of home may be the perfect place for a child to experience losing a competition.
Another point that came up in the discussion is that whether or not parents let their kids win is perhaps best based on their age. Young children may get a much needed confidence boost from feeling that they’ve won, but with teenage kids, parents probably want to bring their A game.
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