In today’s world of influencers and social media likes, children are growing up faster than ever before. In a rush to treat them like adults, we need to remember that kids are different in every possible way: physically, mentally, cognitively, emotionally, and socially. The best thing adults can for kids is allow them to be kids and to stop applying grownup values to youth activities.
While parents have their child’s best interests at heart, societal pressures make it easy to get caught up in the fear of their child falling behind when they’re not meeting unrealistic expectations or artificial standards set upon them by well-meaning adults.
Pressure can create competition and heighten the excitement of the game. Players know the feeling that comes with a crucial overtime period or the last game of a tournament. It’s part of the makeup of minor hockey.
However, what happens when that pressure moves from the ice to the stands? Parents and fans are the number one supporters of their teams and want to see their kids do well. Unfortunately, many of us can say we’ve seen the ugly side of what happens when the cheering turns to shouting and sometimes more.
Think back to why you enrolled your child into sports. The life lessons they learn from winning and losing. How they handle adversity when the game isn’t going their way. The confidence that comes from scoring the big goal and yes, the pressure that comes with being in that situation. It’s the friendships that carry from U7 to U18 and working together as a team. These are the same attributes that we hope to role model for players as a parent or coach.
It is not easy to master a new skill and there will be mistakes made along the way. Players want to become better but it takes time and repetition to feel comfortable learning something new. Kids develop at different stages and highlighting accomplishments, no matter big or small, can help instill confidence and make them continue to want to learn.
This season we’ve seen the joy the comes from simply being at the rink. It’s made us realize just how much we love the game. Parents and coaches need to ensure the number one goal of youth sport is that kids have fun. The added pressure will not increase the odds of their children reaching the NHL but it instead can stop them from playing purely for having fun.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about you. Your child’s successes and failures at the rink are not a reflection of you as a parent. Listen to your kid and most of all allow them to enjoy the process and have fun. In a year where we’ve learned not to take hockey for granted, let’s remember to take a step back once we can fill the stands again.
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