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Help Your Child Deal With Pre-Game Nerves

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This resource is from a case study in PCA Founder Jim Thompson’s book Positive Sports Parenting.

Your child is about to play in an important game. In the hours leading up to the game, you notice your child seems particularly nervous. As a Second-Goal Parent®, what should you do?

Recognize that nervousness and fear are a part of sports. Particularly as kids get older, knowing that their performance matters can cause anxiety. The objective is to help your child learn to deal with the fear that often accompanies performances. This is much more important than how well he performs in this particular situation.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Make sure your child knows that he doesn’t have to perform well to please you. This may seem silly, but children often get confused about this. “Enrique, I want to make sure you understand that I love you no matter how you perform today. You don’t have to do anything to make me proud of you. So go out there and have fun.” Then act the part. If he does well, don’t go overboard in showing your delight. If he doesn’t do well, maintain an even keel about that as well.

  • Acknowledge nervousness and fear directly. Refusing to acknowledge fear of failure doesn’t make it go away; it goes underground where it can do real damage. “Just about all great athletes get nervous before a big competition. Remember, nervous is normal.” If you have a good story about a time when you were nervous before a game, you might share that story with your child.

To read the full response, including more ways to help your child with pre-game nerves, download the book excerpt found below.

To purchase the entire Positive Sports Parenting book, and to learn more about other PCA books, click here.

These books are used in PCA’s live workshops. To learn more about our interactive parent workshops, click here.

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