How can you help your son or daughter, a high school athlete, work through the cancellation of their sport’s season?
By showing them how much you CARE.
- Remain Calm
- Allow time to pass
- Resist rushing in to save them from their emotions
- Show Empathy
You know your child better than anyone else, so when you view these suggestions, choose the things that you believe will work best for you and your child.
Keep in mind that there have been times when school systems have closed and sports have been cancelled during natural disasters. Those students were upset and disappointed, but they managed to endure because they participated in bringing normalcy back into their lives.
You can help your child accomplish the same by doing the following.
You, too, may be upset, frustrated and angry about the cancellation of the sports season. Make sure you take time to manage your own feelings before you try to help your child deal with theirs.
Allow time for your child to grieve and emotionally heal.
Your child’s sense of loss will be personal. They may experience the same kinds of emotions that we feel when we mourn or grieve. Not all kids will grieve the same way or take the same amount of time to accept and let go. Before you step in, be sure to give your son or daughter the time they need to mourn their loss.
Resist rushing in to save them from experiencing their own emotions.
This may sound counterintuitive, but one of the most important gifts you can give your child is the opportunity to manage their emotional pain and discomfort.
They have the right and need to deal with their feelings in order to learn how to work through their anger, frustration, disappointments or sense of loss.
Once you have given them some time to process what has happened, it’s okay to ask them what they need. Don’t worry if they say nothing! They may not know how to articulate what they want.
Let them take the lead before you start offering your opinions. Their emotions may be too raw to have a meaningful conversation. That will come when they are ready to talk.
Show Empathy for what they are going through.
A great way to show empathy is to let them know you care. Words are not the only way to accomplish this. Simple acts, like a smile or making their favorite meal can work. You get the idea.
In the words of Teddy Roosevelt “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much care.”
Once your son or daughter feels you understand what they are feeling, they will be more likely to listen to your opinions. Start that conversation by telling them how much you love them and that their feelings are not facts that can’t be changed, but emotions that can and will change over time.
Now is the time to encourage your child to explore other opportunities. Playing the sport they just lost is not their only vehicle for healthy physical activity. There are more than 120 sports offered across the US. Suggest that they go online and see what’s available in your area.
Also, talk about activities you can do together or as a family. If nothing else, this may help them get their minds off of what they have lost.
Watch for changes in their behavior
In spite of all your efforts, your son or daughter may struggle emotionally. Maybe this was the first year they were scheduled to start, maybe they were just elected a team captain, maybe this was the year they were positioned to win a league or state title, maybe there was a potential scholarship on the line or maybe, they just wanted to live out their lifelong passion to play a sport they love.
If you notice your son or daughter is experiencing the symptoms noted below and you can’t help them work through them, reach out to your child’s school guidance counselor or your family physician for help.
- Changes in appetite or eating habits
- Problems sleeping
- Short temper and Irritability
- Sadness or depression
- Lack of motivation or apathy
- Obsession over the cancellation
- Substance abuse
When kids know they are loved and supported by those they care about, they are much more resilient than we give them credit for. And, given the time they need, most kids will weather this storm.
Good Luck and Stay Safe
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