Does your child show a drop in motivation, fun and keenness to go to their club?
An increase in frustration, anger, tantrums, stress, nightmares, disturbed sleep, negativity, withdrawal, stomach upsets...?
If so, let me explain what can contribute to this.
The sporting context for children
We all get out first experiences of sport as children. This happens during the important time for learning about ourselves and others. Involvement in sport can teach us good leasons, help us grow and develop healthy relationships with others. But, unfortunately, the training, practice, club and competition environments can also be challenging, confusing and painful for juniors.
Parents and good coaches can help children to navigate these sporting environments so they learn and grow. Sometimes more help is required and that may be when a sports psychologist can help the child understand why people (adults and children) may behave and say things that they do. This way, the child does not overly personalise and blame themselves for things that happen which, if not tackled, may lead them to become negative and give up.
Children experience many of the same challenges as adults
Anyone involved in sport - no matter what age they are - experiences similar challenges:
- Learning new skills
- Making mistakes
- Having good and bad performance days
- Having to juggle life (friends, school, work, food...) to fit in their sport
- Having days when they are motivated and days when they aren't
- Dealing with distractions
- Dealing with stiffness, soreness or injury...
In addition, those who compete (formally or informally in their club), have to deal with:
- Pressure to perform (stress, anxiety)
- Being with others who try to help or hinder your performance
- Others asking about and knowing how you did...
All of these challenges are testing aspects of being involved in sport for anyone. For children, with less developed self-management and psychological skills these challenges are even more testing.
Common psychological difficulties in children
The result of navigating the testing world of sport for children can be:
- Less motivation, fun and keenness to go to their club.
- More frustration
- Increased anger
- More tantrums
- Signs of stress
- Nightmares and disturbed sleep
- More negativity
- Withdrawing from others
- Physical complaints such as stomach upsets
These signs that the junior is struggling to manage their sport are signs that they need some extra help at the moment. Often parents can offer what is required. But if that isn't enough, then parents may ask me to help their child (and often them as parents too).
My sports psychology work with children and juniors
When I see a junior (someone under 18 years of age) I always ask that a parent or guardian attends the session with them to help explain what the difficluty is and so the parents can be confident in what I am doing. Then, if we agree to meet again, it is up to the child and parent(s) or guardian to decide how much of each session they attend. Some parents stay for the entire session, others stay for a bit at the start of the session and return for the end of the session, where they can hear the session summary, any between session tasks to work on, ask any questions they might have and maybe arrange another time to meet (plus pay for the consultation). For further information on how my consultations work or where they are, visit my consultations page, email or call me.
Effective · Tailor-made · Professional
Dr Victor Thompson