Your Children's Biggest Fan

It’s great to see a mom cheering on her son’s soccer team, or a dad smiling broadly as his daughter performs a piece at a piano recital. But sometimes parents can cross the line—encouragement turns to berating and the pleasure of enjoying the music becomes nail-biting concern about their child making a mistake. All kids can feel like champions when parents make an effort to become their children’s biggest and best fans.

Tips for . . .

  • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Send the message to young children that trying new things and having fun is just as important as “doing a good job.” For example, the next time your child says, “Look at me!” while going down a slide or hopping, try saying something like, “That looks fun,” or “I see you.” These types of responses are satisfying to most children.
    • When helping your children learn new skills, use corrective directions rather than telling them what they are doing wrong. There is a big difference, for example, between, “No, not like that,” and “Okay, now let’s try it this way,” followed by a demonstration.
    • parents with children 6 to 9
    • When on the sidelines during a competition, keep your cheers positive, friendly, and balanced. Compliment both sides when a good play or move is made.
    • In all your children’s activities, keep your focus on helping them master skills, building relationships with others, and having fun.
    • This is a great age range to help your children explore a variety of interests. If, for example, your children have primarily been involved in dance or music, encourage them to try a sport, or vice versa.
    • parents with children 10 to 15
    • Model for your children hard work, a good attitude, and respect for others. Avoid bad-mouthing coworkers, sports teams or players, and others with whom you compare yourself or compete.
    • Don’t nit-pick your children’s performance in activities. Let their coaches, teachers, directors, or others do their jobs.
    • If your children aren’t involved in any out-of-school activities, encourage them to try something new. It’s important for young people to stay involved in these types of opportunities, even if they aren’t the “stars of the show.”
    • parents with children 16 to 18
    • Encourage your children to pursue their passions, as long as they balance them with school and family time. Performing arts, sports, and other activities can be great, but they can start to take over their lives if their involvement becomes too intense.
    • Talk with your teens about competition—how for some people it can be a motivation to work hard or try something new; how for others winning or being the best can get in the way of enjoying what they are doing. Ask whether they think competition helps or hinders their efforts.
  • Invite friends and family members to your children’s performances or competitions.

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