Motivating my kid to work harder at hockey
I want my kid to get better at hockey but when I try to push him he just wants to quit more and it’s pushing us apart. How can I help him understand that he needs to work hard and keep going even when he doesn’t like it? I don’t want him to hate playing hockey but I don’t want him to be a quitter. You can learn a lot from playing sports and I just want what’s best for him.
Thank you for your question. What you’re describing is a common experience that many parents face when their children are involved in sports (or other competitive pursuits such as music, the arts, etc.). It’s important to learn how to best support your children so they can reach their potential, but it’s also important to know when we as parents are crossing the line and pushing them too far. Luckily, there’s a fairly easy way to make sure your children feel supported – by asking them!
Research has shown a positive correlation between what a child sees as support from parents and their enjoyment and self-esteem. The right type of support can also help your child reach elite sport status. Consider how your child might be perceiving you pushing him to work hard. Could it be that what seems like support to you could feel to him like too much pressure?
For example, in times of stress, children may need their emotions acknowledged rather than condemned. You can show this type of emotional support for your child by comforting and encouraging him after a tough match or a loss. If your child comes to you in a bad mood because he had a hard training session and his coach was especially demanding that day, try not to immediately explain that he needs to stay committed to the sport. In this moment, your child may need to express his frustrations and may be simply looking for a safe and supportive environment.
If he stills feels frustrated after this conversation, then you can explain to your child that you’re pushing him because you care about his development and you want to teach him the value of persistence and hard work. When your child knows that you are pushing him not just because you want him to be a better player but because you care about him learning important life skills from hockey, he may feel more supported by you.
The first step in situations like this is always to communicate with your child from a place of mutual respect and empathy.
If you’d like support with how to best communicate with your child, we have a team of therapists who specialize in parenting and children’s mental health, or if you’d like to learn more about Effectus, our Cognitive Enhancement and Youth Performance program, please contact us.