Put Away the Pressure Cooker

Put Away the Pressure Cooker

It is September. For a hockey/ringette mom this time of year brings so many different emotions. Relief as we get back into routines and schedules, excitement as we all anticipate the new season and which players will get to play with this year, and stress as we juggle all the last minute ice times, coordinate work and volunteer schedules and frantically rush around to find bigger sizes in all the equipment the kids have a outgrown since last year.

The truth is I love being at the rink, watching my kids play and being part of a team. I watch them learn to master new skills, make new friends and have fun doing it. At the same time, they are learning the value of hard work and determination, how to work with others, and how to accept feedback and direction from coaches.

Sports can be a place where kids develop valuable life skills, but there seems to be an overwhelming sense of urgency. Sometimes parents expect these skills to develop rapidly like when they throw a meal in the pressure cooker. However, it may be more beneficial to slow down and allow the ingredients to simmer over time.

Parents really do want the best for their kids and most parents recognize the value of character development in addition to mastery of athletic skills. However, rather than placing all the ingredients of good character into a slow cooker allowing our children to simmer in their experiences and emotions, we seem to be trying to pressure cook them.
We put them in power skating, skill development camps, dry land training and maybe even some extra ice times or tournaments. Then we apply the pressure…to show their best skills in evaluations, give their best effort every game/practice, to honour their commitments, to practice their skills. We might even apply these pressures at school or in other activities as well.

Maybe our intentions a re to build strong character, but instead the game isn’t fun anymore, there is too much pressure to perform, too much emphasis on winning, they are afraid to make mistakes, they lose confidence in their abilities, and they quit playing.

There is nothing wrong with wanting all of these things for your child. In fact, being a sports parent is hard and I am happy if you have chosen to support your child this way. But take a minute and just breathe….remember that developing athletic skill and strong character takes time. Let them play, savour these moments and simply just love watching them. You will build a healthier relationship with your child and hopefully your child will develop a love for the game that will keep them playing for years to come.

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