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Kids - common fears

Date: 05/09/2019

Sports come with stress, both on and off the field. Sometimes, that stress can grow into anxiety and fear, keeping kids from enjoying activities to the fullest. It might even hold your child back from trying something new or sticking with a sport through the season.

Fear of mistakes

Kids should be made aware that everyone makes mistakes! That's how we learn. Make sure your child knows that mistakes aren't just a part of life. They're necessary in order to improve. Try sharing about your own mistakes (kids love to hear about how Dad or Mom messed up) or point out examples from professional athletes. For example, basketball players miss shorts at the buzzer and baseball players strike out. Mistakes are part of the game.

Nervous - people are watching

Stage fright happens to everyone from actors to singers to atheletes. Some people who have to perform in front of a crown even adopt a "game day personality" to feel empowered. An athelete might use an alter ego. Ask your child if he or she wants to use a game day personality, then help them develop one. Additional strategies include practicing in front of a smaller crowd, listening to a favourite song before the game or talking to teammates. As a family, turning nerves into a positive attribute can also help. Remind your child that being nervous means he or she cares, a great quality in an athlete and team player.

I'm not good enough, I want to be perfect

Some kids are born perfectionists. In sports, this can be a double-edged sword. Sure, it's great to want to do something well, but perfection is an elusive goal. Instead, help your child focus on a mastery approach to sports, with a goal of improving individual skills and working hard. Athletes and coaches who use this approach report greater success, as well as more enjoyment of the game.

I don't want to disappoint anyone

When it comes to this fear, first look in the mirror. Are your own emotions and sense of self-worth tied to your child's sports performance? Are you reliving your sports dreams through your kids? If the answer is yes, take a step back from the field or court. Tell your child that you support them no matter the outcome of the game. Do not add pressure to what your child is already experiencing. If you are positive your own attitude isn't contributing, reassure your child that you're proud no matter the outcome of the game. Remind them to focus on mastery and to remember why they started playing the sport in the first place-because they love it.

This sport is only for boys or girls, not for me!

Support your child's interest, and encourage them to follow their heart and talent. If friends, family or classmates question your child for his or her activity choice, step in and deal with any criticism. It's also helpful to look for role models who are blazing their own paths in their chosen sports.

I'm scared I'll get hurt!

Injuries are a real possibility in sports. Fear of getting hurt or hurting someone else, can make your child tentative on the field. Work on strategies gradually to overcome this fear. Practice with safe methods, and encourage your child to focus on what is happening in the game in the present, rather than what might or might not happen in the future. Set small progress goals as this fear isn't something likely to disappear overnight.

What happens if we lose?

Some kids worry that they and their teammates might get into troubles if theylose a game. To ease their fear, reiterate the reason you want them to play sports: to be healthy and active, to make friends and to learn new skills. Above all, remind kids that, just like winning, losing is part of the game. Model good sportsmanship for your own family and for any sideline parent who needs the lesson.

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