“I love watching you play” has been described as the five most powerful words you could say to your child after a sporting event. As parents, we want to fully support our kids. We get excited about going to their games, we can be vocal (sometimes too vocal), we coach from the sidelines, we can be too loud, too into winning and losing and provide too much feedback. We can do all these things, and I know because I’ve done all these things.
Several years ago, when I read those five words, “I love watching you play,” it really resonated with me. I’ve made all these mistakes, especially when my kids were younger and just starting. I was coaching, loud and intense, as I always am. All that doesn’t translate great when you’re at games. When I heard the phrase “I love watching you play,” I reflected on myself and what I saw in others and realized it’s time to stop doing that negative stuff. I wanted to get back into “I love watching you play” or “I love watching you compete.” Show your kids that you appreciate how they compete, how they didn’t give up and how they keep grinding.
Win or lose, you find out quickly that your kid isn’t going pro. They might; some do but probably not. They may not play D1 level in college, but good for you if they do! Either way, you find out as your kids get older that the purpose of sports is to teach you about teamwork, dedication, discipline and overcoming adversity. As parents, we should be supporting all of that.
I haven’t shared many parenting tips, but I saw these words and thought it was a great reminder. Over the years, I’ve found myself getting quieter and quieter at games, letting the coaches coach, and not trying to be overbearing with advice. I coach and mentor when they ask, but I really fall back on these words as a playbook for parents. I try to say “I love watching you play” as often as I can, and I’ve seen it have a great impact on our relationship, experience and connection. I’ll sometimes whisper or make comments to my wife throughout their games, but I’ve learned to keep more and more of those to myself and just be there to support my kids.
Learn all the great things that sports can teach and apply those lessons to other things as you go through life. Parents, I hope you’ll reflect on those words and create an even better experience for you and your child.