“Move your body this way, and you will cut off the angle.”
A parent was saying this to his daughter after her game.
I’m not sure she heard him. She had that glazed look in her eyes that said I’m tuning you out.
I was a field marshall at that game. The score wasn’t close, and the daughter’s team had lost.
When the score doesn’t go the right way for your child’s team, it’s hard to know what to say to your child as they come off the pitch. What is helpful? Here are some tips to help you know what to say and what to avoid.
Let Your Child Lead the Conversation
Some games are tough to watch. But you don’t know how your child feels about it until they tell you. Take a moment and follow their lead. Are they upset? Do they want to talk about it? Start by listening. They may not be upset by a lopsided score. Maybe they knew a better team beat them.
“What Did Your Coach Say?”
If your child is complaining and frustrated, ask them what their coach had to say after the game. You may just agree with that coach. That makes it easy. Try to validate what the coach had to say. If you disagree with the coach, ask your child what they think. Do they agree with the coach?
Just a reminder - your child needs you to be a parent. They already have a coach. If you are giving advice about how to position your body or how to move your feet, take a look at your child. If they are listening, keep going. If their body language or expression tells you they aren’t listening, you know you are out of your role.
Don’t Critique Other Players or The Coach In Front of Your Child
Soccer is a team sport. Each player has to support the other, or the team doesn’t work. It’s very hard for a player to support others if they hear their own parents talking about the player’s faults or speaking disrespectfully of the coach. Save that conversation for when your child is out of the house - or better yet, keep it to yourself.
Do The Same Things After The Game, Regardless Of The Outcome
If you get ice cream after a game, get ice cream, win or lose. Don’t reward your child based on whether their team won or not. Their value as your child isn’t based on the game’s outcome. You don’t need to get that special treat every time - just make that choice before the game or go randomly, whether they win or not.
I was a soccer parent for over 20 years. And the longer I sat on the sidelines, the more I learned that my job was limited. My job was to drive, buy food and snacks, and clap at the beginning and end of the game. And try not to stick my foot in my mouth. The older my kids got, the harder this was.
So, I learned to listen and support. This time goes by pretty quickly. Do what you can to enjoy this time.
- Laurie Wolt, Salvo SC Staff, Soccer Mom
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