There are many ways that you can help improve your child’s confidence as a parent at home. However, the approaches you use will only work if what you’re doing at home is being complemented by good coaching practices. The child needs to be getting the same message at home and at training otherwise the outcome will not be as effective as it could be.
It’s important to remember that if their lack of self confidence is reflected in poor performance, the child may feel like they are letting you the parent, and their coach down. They must realise that you disassociate them from their sport. Their sport is merely something that they do, it does not define who they are. Reassure them that everybody has times when they have dips in confidence and where things don’t always go right as a result. It is important that they know this is perfectly normal and does not only happen to them. You could use examples of where this has happened to their sporting heroes to help reassure them.
Approaches that I have used before are:
The use of a diary:
Encourage your child to write in their diary every night about their day. Each entry has to include one thing they have done that they are proud of. This is done to build up their general self confidence and self esteem. Being encouraged to focus on positive things will hopefully rub off onto their sporting life too as they have probably got in to the habit of focusing on the negative.
Working out positive words and statements to use at times when they are low in confidence during sport:
It is important to identify the areas where your child normally gets quite negative and down on themselves. These could be in a variety of situations for example; if they make a mistake, if their team start losing, if they keep missing shots on goal etc. (These are examples from football but your child will be able to identify areas from their sport.) It is then necessary to work out some positive counter statements that your child can say to themselves when they are in these situations. These statements or words should quickly bring them back in to a positive frame of mind so that their initial negative feelings are dealt with quickly so they don’t impact or effect their performance. An example of this is as follows:
Issue that effects confidence: Missing a shot on goal
Talk with your child about how they feel when this happens as it is important that they acknowledge how they feel. They then have to come up with a statement or 3 words that they can say to themselves to prevent these feelings negatively impacting their performance. It is important that they come up with the words/statement themselves as it will be most effective this way. Upon missing a shot on goal the child may say: Head up; Be strong; Lets go. These words are going to be unique to the child and are the words that they feel will work the best for them. It is best that your child practices saying these words in a relaxed environment to start with before they take them into training or a competitive environment. The more they practice them and believe in what they are saying, the more effective the results will be. They can have different sets of words or statements for each issue that they have problems with rather then using the same words each times if they wish.
Making a ‘What’s great about me’ poster:
This is a fun exercise that makes your child focus on what is great about being them. It doesn’t have to focus on their sport (but it can) and should include a minimum of three attributes about themselves that they are proud of. They can decorate the poster however they wish and they should put it somewhere where they can look at it whenever they need to. It can go up on their bedroom wall but they might want to put it somewhere more private, depending on their age.
Try and help your child not to fixate on that part of their life too much, otherwise it can make the problem appear bigger then it actually is to your child. Try and keep variety in their life to help keep a healthy balance for them. This could include simple things like organising play dates for them and letting them take part in other sports just for fun. Being sport specific at too young an age is not healthy for any child. Variety is the spice of life!
It’s important to think about when the best time to talk things through with your child is. For some children, talking about these things just before bed might leave them with too long to think them over and might effect their sleep. However, for other children this time of the day might be good as they feel these issues have been resolved and talked through and they can switch off to them. This is very specific to each child and and it’s important to choose a time that feels right to them.