4 of the Most Important steps you can take as a parent to support your child’s talent
Claire Peirson – Pivotalmind
‘Once in a lifetime you will have the opportunity to be
amazing – take the moment.’
At the end of 2015 I had the absolute pleasure of watching guest speaker Bill Beswick talk to the children, staff & parents at my daughter’s secondary school in Dubai.
Bill is a sports psychologist (but began his career in the classroom) and has worked with a number of football teams (including Manchester United, England & USA Women’s), British Basketball, Swimming and Athletics and most recently with England in the rugby WC.
From the very start of his presentation Bill had the audience captivated: from his warm, easy delivery perfectly pitched and directed at the children, to his fascinating anecdotes of working with elite athletes that had the whole audience inspired.
The children were spellbound for the whole session as Bill encouraged them to share their own stories, experiences, beliefs and opinions. The good news for you is that I have gathered all the information from that presentation to enable you to support your child in their chosen activity.
So, here goes...
1) Understand what type of player your child is.
Bill explained that in sports psychology there are three types of player:
A A STARS/ Very rare/ Gods!
A B UNER-ACHIEVER
B A OVER-ACHIEVER
The STAR, who is giving 100% effort to whatever they’re competing in and getting fantastic results.
The Under-achiever who has the natural ability and possesses the talent yet doesn’t give 100% effort.
The Over-achiever, who doesn’t have the natural talent but gives 100% effort.
So, where does your child fit into this and what can you do as a parent to support them…?
Parents of Stars – get out of the way and let them go, let them fly! These children are going to be successful at whatever they choose to do in life. They have taken responsibility for their own actions.
Parents of Under-achievers - They’re either taking their skills for granted because they’ve always been told that they’re amazing, rather than for how hard they’ve worked or they may be lacking in character needed to get them to a high level in the game and mental toughness skills may need to be addressed. Or there could be some self-sabotage attitude that will not let them take their final steps – some self-limiting beliefs stopping them from giving it their all. Last but not least – they simply might just not be enjoying the sport!
Parents of Over-achievers - A fantastic attitude that keeps persevering, keeps going, maybe not the best talent but mentally strong and a winning character - not the best or most skilful player – but makes NO excuses, with a positive mental attitude of ‘I can do this, I can work hard, I will get there,’ keep working hard and supporting these children through wins and defeats – they will get there.
2) Understand what it takes to go from ordinary to good to great.
There are a lot of ‘good’ players but very few are ‘great’ so what makes a player go from…
ORDINARY – GOOD – GREAT?
Ask you child for their response and see what they come up with. Here are some of the examples the children in the audience had.
Determined, confident, perseverance, committed, motivated, never give up attitude, Belief in yourself, robust, proud, focussed, belief in your skills, hard working, dedicated
Sports Psychology and Inner Game Performance Coaching is all about reminding children about these words so that the words are running through their minds in the moments before they compete. Apply these words to anything in life and you will succeed.
If you want to move from ordinary to good and from good to great – you have to work! They’ll be so many reasons, excuses to stop the game; give up; not bother training because there’s something else going on. It’s not about talent (apart from a few rare exceptional individuals with gifted talents) talent levels off – it’s character that gets you to great.
Remember, in team sports, a good sports person is resilient, well-mannered and respectful whether you are losing or winning.
3) Know who your enemy is
Who is the enemy when you’re playing sport?
The answer, of course is YOURSELF! Ask your children why?
Self-belief, self-limiting beliefs, self-sabotage talk, low self-esteem, negative frame of mind, low self-confidence, negative outlook, victim mode
When you are competing, it’s not the travel, the hotel, the flight, or the opponent who is the enemy. To win, to do well, to succeed you have to worry about yourself; you have to win the battle within yourself.
Imagine this - there are 2 dogs in your brain: both dogs are barking all the time, even when you’re asleep number they are barking. The first one is barking, “You can’t do this, you’ll never do this, that teams too good, you’ll lose.” now that dogs barking for your attention, even when you’re asleep, it’s barking for your attention. Now what happens if you give it attention? What will happen of you listen to that dog…?
Now, we’re lucky because as humans we have two dogs in our brain and the other dog is barking, “We can do this, you’re going to be great, we’ll win this, if we keep going, we’ll win, stay in the game, you’re a good person, believe in yourself!”
Which dog wins…?
It’s up to you, it’s your choice - attitude is a CHOICE. The dog that wins is the dog you feed the most! It’s how you talk to yourself – a Sports Psychologist, Peak Performance or Inner game Coach trains people how to talk to themselves using these words of self-belief. The words of the positive dog.
There is no MIGHT… we CAN… we WILL!
4) Recognise the importance of stepping back
At the end of the day when your child steps into the arena, pitch, pool or podium, they are faced with a moment of truth, they can only face themselves and when you haven’t prepared them for that, when you haven’t prepared them for mum & dad not being there and holding their hand, there’s nowhere to go, they’ve got no resources, you can kill them with love, you’ve got to prepare them for the world, if you over-help, you don’t prepare them for that place whenever they’re standing alone with only themselves.
It’s an 8/10 life – the real learning takes place in the defeats, get them to self-reference, it doesn’t matter how good you think they played, as inner game coaches we need children to self-reference – how good do they think they’ve played? They need to do it for themselves, not for you, it’s effort that will see them through to great, if we won the game – they know that – it’s the effort that needs praise, get them self-reflecting
Do not let them become a victim – in times of defeat ask, ‘what are you going to do about it?’ Bill has banned the phrase ‘oh my god!’ because he says it encourages the victim mentality.
Are you using victim phrases that take the responsibility away from the player?
5) Knowing how to coach and guide
This is more aimed at the coaches rather than the parents but is a great mentality to have no matter who you are mentoring in life.
First set up the non-negotiables: rules/ guidelines/ teams/ kids/ respect/ manners and get these established in the first few weeks of training sessions.
Secondly, stand to the side during training – give them space but be there to support and teach them how to organise themselves, the space they need to learn and grow. Get them to start taking responsibility for their actions and working in a team if relevant.
Lastly, be behind them during competitions. They know what to do, tell them, ‘you’ve got it now, you know what to do, go now’ – if a child is always looking for someone to help them, they are not growing up, growing as a person or taking responsibility.
Give them wings – let them take off and fly
One of the teachers watching the presentation asked what happens when parents live vicariously through their children at games/ matches. Bill has kindly put a PDF together with the dos & don’ts of sports parents – BEWARE, you might not like it parents! I will post it in the next blog :-)
click here... dos/don'ts
I’ll leave you with this clip of Australian speed cyclist Stephen Bradbury – who in the face of adversity, huge setbacks and after being labelled as the underdog went on to achieve greatness.