Saturday, August 6, 2011

Help Your Child Understand His or Her Gifts

In sports, and especially youth sports, there are different ways for an athlete to enjoy success. As discussed in You're NOT too Small, Heavy, or Slow!, many physical attributes are compensatory--they limit performance in one respect but help in another. For instance, if a child is smaller than other children, he or she is likely quicker. A larger child who is slow typically enjoys a strength or height advantage.

But children often tend to focus on the negative--the differences that make it more difficult for them to fit in. They compare themselves to other children, see their shortcomings, and are disheartened. But you can help.

If your child struggles playing sports, help frame their disappointment in a fuller light. Remind your child that he or she is young, and that changes are on their way. Point out the possible ways in which a limitation can also provide an advantage.

Also help your child recognize all of the gifts they may enjoy. A good friend who coaches youth soccer passed on to me the discussion below that he has had with his daughter (and likewise a couple of the kids on his teams). If your child is struggling in sports, you may want to have a similar talk.

"Kristen, you were born with many gifts ... you're pretty, well mannered, smart, a great dancer, and have lots of friends. Many of these things come to you quite naturally and others required a lot of hard work to obtain - some of these things (dancing) you excelled at because you love it and have worked very hard at it. You do not have a great arm nor are you a natural athlete. If you want to excel in this area you are going to have to realize you need extra work and you're going to have to practice/work four hours (when the other kids have to work two). God gives us lots of gifts. Rarely does anyone get all the gifts. So don't worry that XYZ can throw better than you etc ... we all have different gifts. Focus on what gifts you have and work hard on the areas where you are not gifted."

The Joy of Youth Sports

If you enjoyed this article,
you may like my book:

The Joy of Youth Sports: Creating the best youth sports experience for your child (Amazon $8.95)

(Kindle Edition $2.99)