Three Tips for Spring Sport Stress

The weather is warming up, the grass is green, and spring sports are in full swing! Parents often feel frazzled from transporting kids to games and practices, plus juggling the ever changing “rain dates,” but many kids find themselves equally stressed with the pressures of their athletics. For better or for worse, sports have largely become more intense at younger and younger ages. Help your child cope and ease their stress with these three tips:

  • Let the coaches be the coaches. Most parents want their children to succeed in whatever they try, so many end up trying to give regular “constructive criticism” when playing catch or shooting hoops after school. However, that continues to put the emphasis on performance over fun, and can leave kids feeling frustrated. Instead, comment on how much fun you’re having and how much you love watching them play.
  • Be specific with your praise. It can be tempting to try to boost your kid’s confidence by saying how great they are at a particular sport, but you’re better off providing more specific praise. Highlight precisely what they did well, and they will likely appreciate it more. For example, instead of saying, “You’re an amazing baseball player,” provide feedback like, “Wow, you did a good job waiting for your pitch at the plate,” or “It’s great that you kept your foot on the base to get the force out.”
  • Don’t neglect the basics. Adequate rest and nutrition will help your child perform their best and keep their emotions more regulated. Remember, the National Sleep Foundation recommends school aged children get 9-11 hours of sleep per night, with teens doing best with 8-10 hours. Encourage them to wind down at night with a relaxing, screen-free bedtime routine.

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