One of the roles that I really enjoy is coaching Hayden, my seven year-old son’s, soccer team.
Early in his game last week, he was keeping goals and let a shot get past him for a score. His immediate instinct was to look up at me to see how I responded.
I smiled and gave him two thumbs up, letting him know that he was OK and that I was proud of him.
The match continued and they ended up losing 1-0. Not the end of the world, the team tried their best and Hayden had a fun game.
He loves goal-keeping and takes great pride in his performance. I give every player an equal amount of time in goals and despite being the youngest on his team, he consistently does well and regularly keeps a clean sheet during his stint. If you were to ask him, he would tell you that he’s the best goalkeeper on the team, so he would have been flustered to let one past him.
My instinct when the goal went in was to reassure him, as I would for any other child on the team when something goes against them. But afterwards, I wondered what would have happened if I had looked disappointed, been impatient, told him off or perhaps even looked away.
There are times in our children’s lives when they unwittingly make mistakes, fall short of our (or their) expectations or let us down. These are crucial moments and they consistently look to us for reassurance.
We have the chance to build their self-esteem by assuring them of our unconditional love and pride, by indicating with our body language that everything’s OK and giving them the freedom to learn and grow.
Alternatively, we can too easily crush their confidence by scolding them, giving them a hard time or ignoring their silent pleas for reassurance.
I’m not talking about endorsing bad behaviour, I’m talking about dealing effectively with those moments when they try so hard, but don’t quite hit the mark.
On this occasion, I was fortunate that I made the right choice and he was able to shrug off the disappointment of letting in a goal.
I wish that I could say that I always did, but I’m a work in progress as a parent as well. I just hope that I can consistently send each of my amazing kids the correct messages when they need them.
They deserve parents who get this right as do all children.
When your children make an innocent mistake and look to you, what do they see or hear?
Previous post – What Did Your Words Do Today?