As adults, we’ve all been there. Something we really wanted just didn’t work out the way we hoped it would. Whether it’s getting your heart broken by that really cute person, or losing out on the promotion or getting fired from a job, we all know that the feeling of failure will pass.
Unfortunately, we seem to forget this concept when the person disappointed is our kid. Somehow, we know we can bounce back, but we seem to think that is it really is the end of their world when it happens to our kids.
Guess what? They will rebound.
How do we help?
Help them understand that failure will happen. It IS an option. No matter how talented a player might be, there will be times when they come up short. Letting your kid experience failure on their way up the ladder will empower them to learn new things and different strategies that will allow them to be better prepared the next time. It may be the kick in that pants they need to work a little harder.
Failure isn’t fatal, nor is it final.
Don’t let others define them. What other people think about a person has nothing to do with who that person is or what that person can accomplish. We need to help our kids understand that they are the authors of their own stories. Remember when J. J Watt was drafted by the Houston Texans, people booed him mercilessly. Now they cheer because he became one of the best players in the NFL.
Model the ability to rebound. It is OK — as a matter of fact, it is great for your kids to see you struggle and overcome those challenges. Whether it is financial, personal or professional, when you face a challenge and come out stronger for the struggle, your kids know they can do the same.
After the game, talk about other things. It’s OK to ask if your kid played hard or had fun. It’s not OK to reach everything that happened in the game. It’s not OK to offer an in-depth coaching session on the car ride home. It’s not OK to take your frustrations out on your kid. This teaches them that failure is too painful to endure. We want them to learn from their mistakes, not to dread making one.
Be the parent, not the coach. You have entrusted your kid to play for the coach of the team. When it’s always the coach’s fault, your kid only learns to blame someone else.
Not what we are after, is it?
Remind them that you love them whether they played great or played poorly. When you create an atmosphere where a child thinks your affection is tied to their performance we are headed for a very difficult athletic career. Love them for them, not their performance.
We want our kids to learn how to rebound quickly from game to game. Whether they played terribly or played great has nothing to do with what will happen in the next game. Keeping an even keel and focusing on the things that they can control will lead our kids (and us) to a much happier and healthier experience.