How Should Parents React After A Loss?
Farbeit for us to tell parents how to raise their kids through life. They're yours and you're free to do whatever you wish. Let's try to talk to you about how to raise your kids with wrestling.
Parents obviously play a very important role in a child's life, so that naturally bleeds over into athletics. You can go overboard and burn your kids out. You can also be too nice, give them too many options, and they won't be pushed enough to succeed. How they approach the sport is often reflected with how you approach your raising of them through the sport.
We at Red Hawk find as much as we coach our kids, we have to coach their parents as well.
Children Are Extremely Impressionable
Let's start this out by saying that you should want your child to look back when they're older and remember fond memories. Sports should always be a positive experience, especially when they're young. We've found positive reinforcement to work much more effectively than negative.
You shouldn't be yelling at your kid when he doesn't do what you wanted or doesn't perform how you wanted him to. The yelling is negative, and they will start to shut down. Sooner or later, they will stop listening to you altogether, even outside of the sport. They will rebel and every time you try to tell them what to do they'll go into a blank stare and won't listen.
We've seen this time and time again, and the younger your child is when you start the yelling, the faster he'll burn out. He'll quit the sport because it's not something he looks forward to. They're smarter than you think they are. No one wants to get yelled at after they know they messed up.
When Can I Be Disappointed?
The only time you should ever be disappointed, is when your wrestler doesn't try. As long as he tries and puts forth the effort, the result shouldn't matter. You need to teach your kid to feel the same after a match, whether he wins or loses. In order for that to happen, you need to react the same.
We say, "Win like a champion, lose like a champion." Which really means, don't get too excited after a win, don't get too down after a loss. Instead, let's always focus on what we could have done better in that match. If he wins and you don't mention any technical aspects of the match, he won't learn much from it. The same thing will happen after a loss.
If you as a parent don't have anything technical to say after a match, or words of encouragement or how to improve, don't say anything at all. Just be there for them. Tell them how much you love watching them compete. They're always looking for your approval, it will mean a lot to them.
Nonsensical comments like "come on!" or "you're better than that!" don't help, they hurt. If you don't know this sport, don't pretend you do. We're coaches, we know wrestling inside and out. We've likely been in the exact situation before. You might want to let us do our job.
This is not to say that you shouldn't be competitive. They need to know that winning does matter, but the outcome of a match earlier in the day should never change the environment of the home that night. Just like your wrestler, you need to learn from it and move on.
Children Are Like Parrots
Your child will mimic most of the things you do. When they were young they wanted to walk like you, talk like you, even potty like you. That's how we develop. That's why it's so important in life to be a good role model.
When you complain after a match, they will also start to complain. When you make excuses for them, they will start to make excuses for themselves. If you tell them, "don't worry, you should have won that," you're crippling their ability to look for their own faults and fix them.
They copy your reactions, whether they do it subconsciously or not. Excuses, should have's, would have's, are all detrimental to your child's learning process. It teaches them to look for things that could have happened, instead of looking at how to fix the things that did happen.
You want them to seek their faults so they can improve. Avoiding your faults is a dangerous habit. Your wrestler being coachable is very important, and they learn that directly from watching how you handle stress.
We see kids flip out after a match, and if they do that when they're older no one ever corrected that bad behavior. It's natural to do that when they're young, but you must teach them not to. In order for them to understand, you can't overreact either.
Wrestling Is A Journey
Some kids are naturally gifted and will always have an easy time with wrestling. Keep in mind, that is a very minute part of this sport's population. Most wrestlers, regardless of ability, will have their ups and downs.
The best way we can describe it is every wrestler is climbing a ladder. Some are able to make jumps up the ladder, while others have to climb normally. Kids will surpass and fall behind many times before high school. You must stay the course and focus on improvement if you ever want them to reach those higher rungs. Some fall off completely.
Every time your wrestler hits a new age division, he is put up against those who struggled the previous year and improved drastically because of that. If they struggle when they're younger in a division, it's natural. They must overcome that difficulty curve so the next year is easier. This will always take hard work and the realization that there's more to do and learn.
The State Champion Complex
Just because you're a state champion at eight years old does not mean you'll win states four years later. You have to work very hard to stay above the curve, ahead of the competition. You can never be satisfied. You have to always look to improve your technique.
If you're not a state champion at eight years old, it doesn't mean you won't be when you're ten, or twelve, or fourteen. Wrestlers peak at different times with this sport in their lives. Your hope is for them to peak in high school, not when they're eight.
If you get too caught up in the now, wanting your wrestler to succeed at this point in time, then you're forgetting about the future and there may not be one with wrestling. We've seen plenty of kids win states multiple times and then do nothing in high school. We've seen kids win states in high school and do nothing in college. We've seen kids do nothing in high school, but become national champions in college.
This is an endurance race, it's not a sprint. Those who are better equipped to face the long haul will more likely succeed when it really matters (high school). Performing in high school gets the scholarship. After that, it's up to them how far they want to take the sport. As long as they keep trying to improve and don't get into trouble, they'll keep the scholarship and be just fine.
The Key: Fun
You have to find a way to connect with your wrestler. This sport has to be fun for them and you, otherwise they will never be successful.
Regardless of success, if it's not fun, then what's the point? It's a long journey, and it only gets tougher and more serious as you go. You have to find ways to keep the fun.
TL;DR (Too Long, Didn't Read)
Have fun with this sport. Don't yell. React the same whether your wrestler wins or loses. Keep it positive and make sure he continues to learn and improve. If you can't follow these rules as a parent, your child may up and quit before it's his time to shine.