It’s emotional, it’s thrilling, it creates adrenaline – that’s why we love competition. Coaching and watching from the sidelines can bring you through a roller coaster of joy, pride, fear, anticipation, frustration, disappointment, all within minutes or even seconds of each other.
There’s a reason people love their professional sports games, but what do we do with those emotions when we are watching or coaching our kids games? Now we are personally connected to the athletes. We are absorbing some of our kids ownership of triumph and mistakes because these kids are a reflection of us- of our parenting or coaching. The emotions can be pretty intense.
Today I ran across a basket of dammit dolls and I thought- we need to hand these out at the gate of every game. We have to learn to breathe, count to ten, beat our internal dammit doll before we speak- before we yell onto the field, before we belittle, judge, and let our emotions unfilter our usually careful words. I’ve seen the kindest parents either on the sideline or coaching, turn into someone I wouldn’t recognize in another setting.
Have you ever heard a parent talk about your own kid on the bleachers from behind you? I have, and it’s not a pleasant experience. I’ve heard someone yell my kids name and tell him that he needs to learn to catch. I turned around to have them look at me and say, “doesn’t that piss you off?” And I thought – yes it does! That you would not only humiliate your own kid, but that you would also yell at my kid. (A dammit doll would have been great at that moment.)
My favorite terms to throw out at a game these days are unlucky, good try, bummer, or even oops,and next time buddy!! I know something is going to come out of my mouth and if I get in the habit of using pre-chosen remarks maybe I can help prescreen those emotional bursts before they harm the sports culture around me.
We give kids a mistake ritual for their mental game, but adults need one too. We need to be able to flush our kid’s and our player’s mistakes so that we can do the right thing and move on. We need to be able to flush the emotions of a game before we go greet the kids post-game, before we get in the car, before we do something we can’t take back.
I looked these up- in case you need one! www.dammitdolls.com