The pressure and heat of competition brings out the best and the worst in athletes and parents. I’ve been amazed to see parents who always seem so calm go berserk at their child’s games. Kids are not the only ones who need to work on handling their emotions!
It’s easy for me to sit here typing at my computer and tell you to “Calm down” or “Stop getting so carried away.” Instead, I’d like to actually
give you three tips, or tools, to use the next time you feel your blood pressure rising and the emotions starting to spiral downward.
Tip #1: Work on Perspective.
A shift in perspective can totally change your demeanor. Here’s one way to make that shift. Take whatever it is that is in front of you now and throw it out 20-30 years. Then ask yourself how important will it be then? Will it be important in 20-30 years if your child played second base instead of first like they want? Will it be important in 20-30 years if your child played half the game, instead of 3/4?
I think the answer to those questions is a resounding NO. There are enough things that happen to your kids that will impact their whole lives, but a lot of what happens in youth sports that parents get so emotional about will not.
Working on your perspective will help you gain control of your emotions.
Tip #2: Create margin.
One reason so many people struggle to control emotions is that they are tired and over-scheduled and have no time for themselves. They have no margin. Here’s what author Richard Swenson says in his book Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives:
“Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating. Margin is the opposite of overload. If we are overloaded we have no margin.”
If you have no margin, you are probably exhausted and if you’re exhausted it becomes harder to counterbalance strong emotions.
If you are struggling to figure out how to find margin, Michael Hyatt does an excellent job of explaining the process in his article How to Create More Margin in Your Life.
Tip #3: Take Good Care of Yourself
Creating margin is the first step to taking good care of yourself, but real self-care goes further. It includes eating properly, getting enough sleep, exercising, building your own support system, and looking for ways to grow and learn.
I know what you’re thinking: I don’t have time! But you cannot be the parents you really want to be if you don’t take time to invest in yourselves. You tell your athlete that they must take time to practice extra and work out if they want to reach their athletic goals. In the same way, parents must allocate time to take care of themselves if they want to reach their parenting goals.
I want to add that not all emotions should be questioned or dismissed. If you’re angry about something that threatens your child’s safety or well-being, then let that anger prompt you to do whatever is necessary.
As parents, it’s important to remember that you should set an example of handling your emotions instead of letting your emotions handle you. This is a lesson your child can take into the game as well.
Janis Meredith, a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, lives in Palo Cedro, CA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more on her blog at jbmthinks.blogspot.com.