Parents. Stop the madness. The lectures. The play-by-plays. The analysis. The should’ve, could’ve . . . 

Look around and you will see on every court, field, ballpark . . . 

All the talk.

Think about it.

As an adult, how would you feel if you came out of a huge presentation at work and had someone immediately going over every sentence? How would it feel for someone to criticize your every word or move, in your ear . . . going on and on?

What would happen instead if, after a game, we gave kids room to breathe?

What if we let them marinate in knowing we simply enjoyed watching them play rather than giving them a lecture?

RELATED: To the Parent Yelling in the Stands

What would happen instead if we gave them permission to take it all in and have fun?

What if we simply praised them for their effort?

Even when they didn’t score. Even when they didn’t win. Even if they turned over the ball, flubbed up, or missed the catch.

What if we just listened? Quietly.

Most likely, our kids would bring the game up later—they might want to talk about what went well or where there was room to improve.

Maybe they wouldn’t want to discuss it at all.

But what our children really need to know is that their worth is not measured by wins and losses or missed balls or baskets. And if we want them to have a love of the game . . . they need to discover the intrinsic joy of it.

RELATED: Dear Youth Sports Parents: Our Kids Need Us to do Better

More importantly, if we want a relationship with them, our children need to know we have their backs and that we aren’t their critics.

“I love watching you play.”

If we just tell our kids, “I love watching you play,” everything changes for the better.

Try it.

*Inspired by Positive Coaching Alliance

Originally published on My Battle Call by Valli Gideons

Changing the Game is a must-read for parents who have kids in youth sports. It’s a great resource for raising happy, successful athletes! Don’t have time to sit and read? You can listen to it here, on Audible.

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Valli Vida Gideons

I am a military bride, who writes about raising kids with cochlear implants, military life, and other things from the heart. Unrelated but not irrelevant... I have a degree in journalism and wrote my first short story in second grade about a walking/talking sponge; I've been an exercise instructor since my teen years (Flashdance sweatshirts, leg warmers and vinyl records to prove it); and may have been an extra on the vintage 90's hit, Beverly Hills 90210 (proof still found on VHS tapes). I got hypothermia in my first marathon at mile 25.5, but went on to kick butt the next six times I toed the line; I use to cut hair on Melrose Ave. in another life; and I am still besties with my two closest pals from elementary school, who encouraged me to share my story. This is my journey. I hope it provides a sliver of inspiration for anyone who is entering or in the midst of a fog. Follow my journey on Facebook and my blog!