If you’ve been blessed with a daughter who is a gifted athlete, you are also undoubtedly familiar with the unique challenges that she experiences. And being the mom of an athlete comes with it’s own set of challenges too.
Here’s 3 simple tips to help you navigate the highs and lows your daughter is experiencing this coming sports season:
1.Remember that high school is overwhelming
In addition to the trainings, games, tournaments, championships, and individual coaching (whew, what a list!) your teen is also trying to navigate the perils and pitfalls of high school. If she’s like many of the teens I see, she has high standards for herself and might also be taking IB or AP classes and has many obligations to complete.
Not to mention- she’s trying to figure out peer drama, ever-evolving friendships, and possibly the blossoming of romantic relationships.
TIP: If your teen has the occasional meltdown or blow up, it can be helpful to remember EVERYTHING that she’s got going on. She’s blowing off steam on the safest person she has in her corner (you). If her anger or frustration appears, practice patience. Help her to organize her priorities so she feels less overwhelmed by all her responsibilities.
2. Help your child manage her inner critic.
Your child is good at her sport, if not great. She may be on track for college scholarships. She hasn’t gotten this far by having low standards for herself. You likely have a perfectionist for a daughter. This is a gift and a challenge. Her perfectionism can lead her to a place of self-criticism, inflexibility, quick to anger, and low self-esteem.
TIP: Remind her that she doesn’t have to be perfect. Let her know it’s normal to have off days or off performances. It can be tempting to tell her to “just get over it.” That actually is what we’d like her to do, but she’s got to process it first. Ideally, she just needs you to be present and listen to her when that inner critic starts talking.
3. She needs a mother, not a second coach
It can be so tempting to be the copy cat of the coach. Whether you are constantly reminding her of her form, trying to run drills, or giving her “motivational speeches coach-style”: STOP. It comes across as nagging and harping, and is less supportive than you think. Coaches can be intense and to be coached is an exhausting process. If she has a second coach at home it doesn’t give your child a chance to rest emotionally or physically.
TIP: What she needs most is a mother. Be the someone who listens when she speaks, reflects back her feelings, helps her to sort out options, shows affection, and ultimately is her safe person so your teen can come to you when she feels like breaking down. You can be the person to help build her up.
Bottom line: If your teen is having frequent melt downs, is verbally lashing out, has low self-esteem, or just needs support with managing life. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.