After months of training and intense preparation, it can be discouraging to walk off the field as the losing team. But a loss — no matter how big or small — doesn’t have to crush your youth soccer player’s spirits! With these tips, you can help them get through it.
Don’t Minimize Their Feelings
Show your child that their feelings are important to you by treating them with respect. If your child is angry or tearful, assure them that it’s okay to cry, and listen as they share their frustration before you reply.
No Instant Replay
Your child will not want to listen to you replay the game on the car ride home; they do not want to relive their loss. Feelings are still fresh, and more often than not, raw emotion transforms this conversation into one where the parent becomes the bad guy and the child feels attacked. No matter how great your intentions are, it’s best to give your child a hug, space if they need it, and time to cool down.
Keep Plans Consistent
Make sure that your post-game plans are not affected or influenced by the outcome! If you had already made plans to get lunch, do that; if you promised your child ice cream or a fun afternoon shopping together, stick to it. This teaches your child that quality time with you isn’t dependent on their athletic ability or first place ribbon!
Don’t Bad Mouth the Coach
The coach isn’t perfect, and you might leave the game angry at the choices they made, but it’s crucial that you don’t spend the ride home from the game complaining about them. When your child hears your negative thoughts, it gives them permission to blame the coach for the loss, and your frustration will turn into theirs. This means that they’ll lose trust and respect for the coach. When they share this with their teammates, this fosters gossip, resentment, and a poor team environment. This damages the team’s chemistry (and will certainly not help them win in the future). This rule applies not only to coaches, but to their fellow players, players’ parents, and officials as well.
Remind Them That You’re Proud
Children instinctively focus on the negative aspects of their performance, so remind your child of how proud you are of them, and help them focus on what they did well. Be supportive, but be honest. You want to make sure you don’t only give words of praise after a successful win; cheer your child on even when the results aren’t favorable. Talk about their hard work, level of commitment, and ability to be an awesome team player.
Help your youth soccer player get through tough losses, and remind them that their value as a person isn’t based on their athletic ability. If you’re looking for more soccer parent tips, check out the rest of our blog!