...creating resilience in your child
Resilience is a commonly used word and a quality we are keen to nurture in our children. It creates the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties in an increasingly fast-paced world. Although we all seek this character strength for our children, how do we achieve it? Sport provides us with a unique opportunity to nurture these qualities as it encapsulates so many emotions through success and failure.
Praise effort not outcome
As our children grow we celebrate every new stage and congratulate them for every new action they achieve. This provides the child with the encouragement to keep trying new things. However, as they continue to evolve it is important to focus on their effort and endeavour rather than merely the outcome. Studies show that if we only celebrate success we create a belief that only winning is acceptable, which creates a belief that anything other than 100 percent isn’t good enough. This then nurtures a risk averse mindset whereby if something is perceived as being too difficult, it is best to not even try to avoid the possibility of failure. Instead we should praise children’s efforts and their willingness to give something a go. If the outcome is not perfection, we should help them to understand how their effort has achieved a minor, but important victory and reassure them that if they keep trying, they will continue to improve.
Help them set realistic targets
This willingness to bounce back and try harder creates the growth mindset that we all seek. This can be aided by helping children analyse how they have done in order to set the next target for themselves. If we ask them two simple questions: “What worked well?” and “Even Better if…” they begin to see the fruits of their endeavours and what to focus on next in order to get better.
Let them fight their own fights
Our parental instincts to protect our children mean that sometimes we lose objectivity and get too involved in our children’s struggles. If they fail or do not get selected they will feel disappointed. We should therefore encourage our children to have the courage to go and ask the sports coach themselves what they need to do to improve if things don’t go their way. This ability to sort out their own problems is essential to allow them to take ownership of their own progression.