Building Confidence and Self-Esteem in Young Athletes
Two of the most important elements of a successful young athlete are building self-confidence and self-esteem, because both will determine how that young athlete will relate to their peers and value their own self worth. There are a multitude of ways to contribute to building our youth’s confidence and esteem that will inevitably transcend onto the football field and encourage them to become better athletes. When we focus on enhancing who our youth are as individuals, they are likely to become successful in all of their endeavors.
Complimenting Beyond “Good Job”
Identify and acknowledge your child’s positive efforts beyond the mundane “good job”. Instead, take a moment to commend your child on what and how they did something well. This demonstrates genuine interest. Giving recognition for a particular play or commending a child’s demonstration of sportsmanship are just a few ways to genuinely praise your child. Overall, taking a moment to applaud a child’s efforts will leave them with a sense of accomplishment and thus positively reinforcing the child’s actions.
Sharing Value in their Experience
As parents, we often times get caught in the monotony of everyday tasks. Demonstrate that your child’s extracurricular activities are a valuable experience for you as a parent, rather than a task to be checked off of the to-do list. Display enthusiasm and pride about their practice time, their games, and their overall participation. This eagerness will communicate to a child that their interests are important.
Model Confidence & Healthy Self-Esteem
Parents are the first teachers of the child, and thus the self image that you display is very influential. Provide a healthy image of self-confidence and self-esteem by practicing positive self affirmations. These affirmations will condition a child to speak and think highly of who they are and their ability to succeed. When a child is surrounded by positive role models, they are able to evolve into thriving individuals and successful athletes.
Allow Your Child to Have Autonomy
It is important for a child to have a sense of independence and autonomy. Giving your child the opportunity to have choices enables them to trust their own judgement and create a stronger sense of self. This confidence will transcend not only in their everyday tasks, but also in their stride as a young athlete.
One of the most valuable lessons that a child can learn is how to respond after an unpleasant or unfavorable experience. A child’s experience after a lost game, an injury or even a poor performance can be crucial in the development of their self esteem and confidence. Avoid negative responses such as visible disapproval, criticism or the blaming of others, as these responses are likely to fuel poor sportsmanship and most importantly, low self esteem and confidence. Instead, demonstrate patience, understanding and love towards your child, so that they feel supported as an athlete.