Don’t force kids into sports to live out parents’ own dreams – psychologist

Just wanted to share with everyone the CBCP for Life article of Ms. Diana Uichanco entitled “Don’t force kids into sports to live out parents’ own dreams — psychologist.”  Ms. Uichanco, a good friend and former editor of Baby Magazine, quoted me in this piece.

Click here to see the aforementioned article on the CBCP for Life website.

 Don’t force kids into sports to live out parents’ own dreams – psychologist
by Diana Uichanco

MANILA, Nov. 13, 2011–Parents need to make sure that their driving their children to excel is not motivated by their own frustrated ambitions which they long to see fulfilled in their children, said a psychologist.

While many parents strive to expose their young children to sports and encourage them to try these out — sometimes several at a time — more is not necessarily better. And though trying to discover where the little ones’ natural talents lie is a good thing, parents must see to it that they are not forcing the little ones as a way of reliving “old glory days” or fulfilling frustrated dreams.

Whose dreams are we talking about anyway?

“In some instances, overly enthusiastic parents who are involved in every aspect of their child’s training, need to take a moment in order to assess their true involvement in their child’s sport,” said sports and counseling psychologist Tedi Villasor, Ph.D., who holds private practice at the Makati Medical Center.

“Parents should ask themselves, ‘Am I living my athletic dreams through my child?’ If so, they need to immediately establish or re-establish their boundaries and constantly remind themselves of the reasons why they made their child take up the sport in the first place (e.g., fun, to learn discipline, life skills, etc.).”

Villasor, who also writes the “Understanding your Child” column for the monthly parenting magazine Baby, explained that as the child develops more skill in a particular sport or art, it may be easy for both the child and the parent to lose sight of the reason why the field was initially pursued in the first place.  The older the child is, the easier it will be for the parents to start looking “towards the greener pastures present in a sports career.

Putting pressure on the child, albeit unconsciously, may lead to a more driven athlete but this is likely to put a strain on the relationship between parent and child and adversely affect the family as well in the long run.

Further, not only will the pressure and the time devoted to the sport take their toll on family relations — the child’s academic life may suffer, too. Hence, according to the psychologist, “parents need to sit down and consider the difficult path that they will be choosing for their child by asking themselves the following questions:

  • How dedicated is my child to this sport?  Did he select it?
  • Realistically, is my child that gifted in his chosen sport?
  • If so, can he work towards his sports goal and continue his  studies at the same time?
  • How would this affect his social life?  The child’s ability to interact with others?

Should it be decided that their child’s studies be put on hold in order to further their sports career, parents need to also take into account that the window of opportunity provided to athletes is quite small.”

With that said, Villasor explained, parents should consider whether this game is worth giving up or postponing an education that could [benefit the child] a lifetime.

“Parents themselves should also refrain from going overboard and instead think of their child’s athletic career as a journey:  If it happens then it is meant to be.  This mindset offsets any potential pressure on the child and allows them to simply have fun,” Villasor explained.

“As in anything in life, it helps if the the child has ‘ownership’ of his chosen sport,” he added.

“What I mean is, if he is intrinsically motivated to engage in sports, the parent need not drag him to the court or field. The child will be the one to do that because of his interest.  This, of course, doesn’t happen overnight and it takes a lot of trial-and-error.  Patience on the part of the parent is a premium.” (CBCP for Life)

Published by tedi31

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