Recently, we had a soccer game where my son played goalie and it was a rough game. The other team was way more physical than us and they outscored us 4-0. Being the goalie he takes each of those as his fault or that he let his team down. I appreciate his team-player attitude but it breaks my heart when he takes all those goals as his own mistakes. Some goals will be your fault with mis-judgement, some goals will be because your defenders weren’t completely doing their job. And some goals will be given up because, simply, they were good shots.
I sat there as time ticked down thinking of what I could say to him after the game. We’ve always told our kids we’ll be honest with them, so you’ll never hear us say “good game”, if it wasn’t. He played ok, but those aren’t the best words of encouragement. Here’s the list of things I thought I could say that were honest and hopefully still supporting and encouraging.
- Admit it was a tough game to them and let them know they tried their best. “Tough game, huh buddy? I know you did your best out there.”
- Tell them you’re proud of them, no matter what. “I’m really proud of how you handled a tough a situation.”
- Praise specific effort or skills they displayed. “You did a great job communicating with your defenders today.”
- Acknowledge their disappointment. “I know you’re disappointed and that’s ok. Be upset for a little bit and then move on from it.”
- The most important one, tell them you love watching them, no matter what. “I just love watching you do what you love, win or lose.”
I hope this list helps you the next time your child has a tough game! I know I’ll be looking at this again! Let me know if there are other things you say to your kids.