5 Tips for Parenting a Student-Athlete
It’s certainly not easy to be a parent of a high school kid. In the midst of concerns about growing up and making the grades to pass and progress to college, these adolescents have other enormous challenges and stresses too. Their relationships with friends and “fitting in” can become a big issue. For student athletes, the rigors of balancing sports and school can be very hard, especially if one is considering pursuing the sport in college and beyond. Here are 5 tips for parents to best help their student-athlete child succeed in these formative years:
1. Help them handle peer pressure –
Kids get pressured into all sorts of things, especially during high school years. Many children are introduced to illegal drugs and alcohol around this time. Others struggle with bullies or friends who get them into trouble. The key for parents is to open the channels of communication with your kids. Be open and accepting when talking to them about these issues, and help them understand the importance of standing up for themselves and their values.
• Positive Tips to Avoid Peer Pressure
• 6 Ways to Help Your Child with Peer Pressure
2. Manage athletic pressure –
Sports are a competitive field and can bring about their own sets of challenges. Poor performances, overbearing coaches, and challenges with the college recruiting process can make things very stressful for you and your child. Be sure to be positive and supportive of your kid. Listen to them if they have concerns they want to share, and work to help them find the best athletic future, without putting too much pressure on them. Emphasizing effort instead of winning can make a big impact on your youngster’s self-esteem.
“If you don’t play football, then you don’t get an allowance.”
“If you’re not starting, you don’t go out this weekend”
“You could have done better than that!”
3. Academic pressure –
No matter how talented your child is, they will have to make the proper grades to earn an athletic scholarship. Teach proper studying habits and work with your teachers to ensure that your student is staying up to date on assignments and performing well in the classroom. Let your kid know that these 4 years are vital for the rest of their lives and help them understand the importance of good studying habits.
• According to an Associated Press/MTV survey, school was the most frequently-mentioned source of stress for 13 to 17-year-olds.
4. Popularity pressure –
It’s especially hard for young student-athletes these days due to the pressure from social media outlets. Everyone wants to be popular, and they often make poor decisions on what things they say or post online in order to get attention. Helping your student understand what is and isn’t appropriate is a big deal, as a single poor post could ruin their chances at a scholarship. Teach them to be a leader, not a follower on these platforms and always showcase themselves in a positive light.
5. Comparison pressure –
don’t add more pressure to your child by comparing them to other athletes or relatives/etc. This is a discouraging tactic that leads to performance anxiety. Let your child know that they are an individual and will have their own unique path in the world. Don’t tell them that they must perform to “so-and-so’s” insanely successful level. Often times you’ll just be setting them up for failure and disappointment.
Clearly there are a lot of things to discuss with your child if they are serious about pursuing athletics beyond high school. It can be a stressful and challenging road, but for thousands of student-athletes each year, the prize can be a rewarding college scholarship. Recruiting Realities can help you understand the ins and outs of the entire recruiting process, and can help guide you through the murky waters of parenting for an athlete.