Guest Blogger, Brooke Chaplan
Kids benefit from having the opportunity to compete against others in sports and other activities that they love. When kids compete, they learn valuable social skills such as how to gracefully win and lose. They also develop the ability to focus under pressure, which is a skill that they will use for the rest of their life. While there are many wonderful things that your kid gains when they are encouraged to participate in competitions, they can also experience extreme pressure and anxiety that can negatively affect their growth. It’s important for your kids to push themselves, but also for them to have fun and relax. Here are some ways you can help your kids develop by enabling them to compete without stress.
Provide Enough Time to Practice
Being unprepared for a public performance is always stressful. Make sure to set up a regular schedule for practice times that include sessions at home as well as during their lessons. In some cases, your child may need to focus on only one sport or activity to make sure that they have enough time to practice at the advanced level. Once you have the practice routine in place, be sure to stick to it. Your child will feel less stressed during their competition when they know their routine by heart. Make sure your child also has enough time to play and enjoy their childhood—a major cause of stress in children can involve the constant parade of activities and sports to compete in.
Make It Easy to Stay Organized
Competition days are often filled with a frenzy of activity. This is especially true if you must travel for competitions. Trying to search for a lost shoe or pair of tights can generate unnecessary stress for your entire family. Help your child stay organized by having them pack days in advance. You could also take advantage of specialized duffels and luggage for specific sports that make it easy to know what to bring and where to store it. For instance, competition dance bags have mesh pockets ensure breathability for fabrics, and they also increase visibility so that your child can immediately see where their things are without having to dig around. Organization is key.
Balance Competitions with Fun
Many competitions are held in areas that are fun to explore. If your child is competing out of town, then plan something fun to do afterwards. You could take them to tour a museum or visit an amusement park. For local competitions, consider enjoying a dinner out that night. Tying the competition to something fun helps your child make positive associations with the activity.
Celebrate Personal Successes
Winning is always awesome, but your child should also know that you are proud of his or her efforts no matter what happens. During competitions, watch to find at least one thing that you can mention that your child did well. This helps you to remind your child that hitting personal goals is also important, and you can also boost his or her self-esteem.
The ultimate goal of having your child compete is to build their self-confidence. It is normal for kids to feel a little nervous before a competition, but you need to watch for signs that they are dealing with too much stress. If you notice that your child is tense or no longer enjoying a favorite activity, then make a few adjustments. Whether your child needs help staying organized or just a reminder of how much fun competing is, you can make a difference in your child’s enjoyment of their sport.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan