Sports Failure Sets the Stage for a “Teachable Moment”
SAN DIEGO, July 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — As the world looks to leading athletes to make history this summer, children across the nation are taking to the field, floor and track looking for their own victory. Unfortunately success often comes with a strike out, fall or loss. The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) encourages parents to see these experiences of imperfection as teachable moments.
CAMFT member Susan Kelsey, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) from Orange County, Calif., offers sound advice to parents, “The reality is that winning doesn’t happen 100 percent of the time and parents must be equipped with tools to teach their children how to deal with failure.”
Kelsey offers a few tips to help parents of children that may be devastated when they make a mistake:
- Differentiate the mistake from who your child is. Children can merge who they are with a mistake that they’ve made and feel like a “bad” person because they struck out. Parents can inadvertently perpetuate this belief by using certain phrases, for example “Be a good boy and clean up your toys.” Remind your children that even good people make mistakes – it’s all part of learning.
- Look at mistakes as opportunities to learn. Parents can help their children learn to handle disappointments by reminding them that we all learn by trial and error – that it’s OK to make a mistake. Losing is part of development. Even great athletes have had their share of losing moments. To further identify with a child, parents can share stories of their own struggles and failures as a child and what they learned from making mistakes or losing an important game.
- Be aware of words and body language. Going back to practice after an embarrassing loss can be difficult for anyone, especially a child. Parents should be mindful of the words they use when a mistake is made. For instance, “Good job at soccer today, but it’s too bad you missed that goal” has an underlying message of “It wasn’t good enough.” Along with the courage to try, children need the courage to fail and try again.
“Organized sports can be an excellent character building experience for many children,” said Kelsey. “With support and patience from their parents, coaches, and teammates many children can learn some wonderful life lessons which will serve them as they grow and mature into adults.”
Children that struggle with failure may benefit from talking with a LMFT specializing in children. Learn more about child development or find a therapist in your area at CounselingCalifornia.com where you can sort by specialty area.
The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of marriage and family therapists. CAMFT provides CounselingCalifornia.com as a free resource for individuals looking for marriage and family therapists located in California. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists treat a comprehensive range of issues including depression, anxiety, phobias/fears, elder and child issues, relationship issues, post-traumatic stress, and severe mental illness. For more information, visit www.camft.org or www.CounselingCalifornia.com.
SOURCE California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists; CounselingCalifornia.com