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In 2012, the movie “A Thousand Words” came out. It was the story of a man who only had 1,000 words left to speak before he would die. Everything he said had to be weighed to see if it was really worth saying. Suddenly he became very very stingy with his speech. He thought about what he wanted to say and put heartfelt meaning into each word.
If you had a quota of words to use each day, would you perhaps choose them more carefully? What would you be sure to say every day to your child? Would you waste your ration on nagging or yelling or gossip? Or would you choose to dispense words that have the power to nurture, heal, motivate, and guide?
This is especially crucial as a sports parent; youth sports is an arena where negative and pushy come very easily to parents. If you want to give your child a positive youth sports experience, be sure your daily word ration includes phrases like these:
1. I love you (no matter how you played today).
You can never, ever say this too much. You may think it’s going in one ear and out the other. But it’s not.
2. I am proud of you.
Whether your team won or not, whether you played well or not.
3. I believe in you.
Words like that will help your child soar in sports.
4. Will you forgive me?
When you are pushy or exhibit bad sports parenting behavior, it’s not easy to ask forgiveness, but it’s the right thing to do.
5. I am listening.
Put down your phone, your iPad, your book, your newspaper, and look at them eye-to-eye.
6. I forgive you.
Show your child you mean it by not bringing up the past over and over again.
7. What do you think?
Ask your child how she feels about today’s game or her team or coach.You don’t have to agree with what she says, but listening will validate that her opinions are worthwhile.
8. How was your day (practice, game)?
You may not get an answer, but don’t stop asking. It’s your way of saying “I care and I’m interested in you.”
9. Let’s talk.
This is easy when kids are small, but the older they get, the more resistant they may become to good communication. Don’t give up on them. Let them know you are always available to talk, listen, and love on them. Let them know that “let’s talk” is an ongoing invitation to them and that you are there when they are ready to share.
10. You can do this.
Encourage your child to not quit, to keep pursuing dreams, and to keeping fighting when things get tough.
Every one of these phrases can be used as your child plays sports. Youth sports is filled with great opportunities to connect with your child, guide him, and help him learn important lessons that will stick for life.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new booklet 11 Habits for Healthy and Positive Sports Parents is available on Amazon.