Monday, February 25, 2019

Learn this to help your kid conquer their anxiety

Frozen hands, sweaty palms.  Butterflies taking up all the space in the stomach, no room for food.  Accelerated heart rate pulsating through the clothing.  No, I'm not talking about a teenager falling in love.  

Those were my symptoms.  Symptoms that I felt every time before my match during the 18 years on the WTA tour.  It was facing the unknown situation whereby the outcome has not yet revealed itself and I desperately wish for the outcome to swing my way that triggered them.  The anticipation into the future instead of staying at the present.

It is normal to feel anxious before a competition.  Competition in itself is not the problem.  The symptoms associated with anxiety are not the problem.  It's the experience that the child feels during and immediately following their performance on how you behave that dictates their association to competition and anxiety.  

Let me explain.  With anxieties, performance can suffer if the player can't get settled during the event.  While struggling in their match, your kid will look at you or sense you (if they're playing on a further court) for support and encouragement.  They are off balance.  They are doubting their ability to handle the situation.  During that intense moment, what you do and how you behave matter.  In fact, it matters a lot.  If they see your body language or facial expression of disapproval (shaking of the head, folding of the arms, tight jaw, pacing up and down, etc, etc) they will link your behaviors to their level of play.  You become a reflection of their performance. On the contrary is also true, if your body language projects poise and confidence, your superstar will hook on those cues as well.

You see, it's not what you say as much as it is what your body language projects during the most intense moment when your child looks your way.  You need to be mindful of what you do in the face of unpredictable situations.  You can choose to project positive vibes with poise and calmness or moan and groan on every unforced error and every mishap.  Whatever you choose, you can't be negative and positive at the same time.  So, choose wisely :-)

It is natural to feel anxious about the things that we want to do very well at.  Every child is different.  Some have the maturity to tame their anxiety symptoms and settle into their match quickly and others need extra support.  You want to be their solution, not become an added problem to their symptoms.

Best of luck this week.
Yours Truly,

Monday, February 4, 2019

3 Practical Ways to Succeed with Your Child

As parents, we do the best that we can to provide for our child and to shield them from harm.  We want the best schools for them.  We want the best programs for them.  We want the best coach for them.  
We do absolutely everything we can externally to get our kids ahead.   With some parents more aggressive than others mind you.  All with the common goal of hoping our child to be successful.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  However, on our quest to help our kids grow, is it possible that we should demand the same from ourselves?  If we are asking them to handle the pressure better, the stress better, should we not be staying calm when they are not playing up to their potential?  If we are asking them to play with no fear, should we not show encouragement when they messed up?  If we are asking them to be mentally tougher, should we not show them how we prevail from our tough day?
Here are the 3 practical ways to succeed with your child
  1. Share your fears and triumphs to inspire.  In our day to day life, we encounter all sorts of challenges.  Some we prevailed and others maybe not.  It's healthy for kids to hear that their parents have fears too just like them.  And how you try to find solutions to solve the issues just like them.  They need to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly: your fears; your success; and your failure.  They need to hear that you don't have a perfect day every day and you try again the next day.  Of course, it goes without saying that the fears we share need to be age appropriate.  
  2. Show what classy tennis parent looks like.   In the heat of competition, parents get totally immersed in their kid's match.  We have all seen parents lost it emotionally screaming at officials, other players, or getting into fist fights.  Let that be the other parents.  We are our kid's biggest cheerleader and role model.  How we carry ourselves make a huge impact on their well being.  Being a classy sport parent does not mean soft and mushy.   On the contrary, a classy sport parent projects poise and self-confidence.  By the way, a classy sport parent is not reserved only for moms.  Dads can be as well, think of Roger Federer.  
  3. Less is more.  No one feels worse than your child after a bad loss.  Lectures, especially after poor performances, rarely get registered.  Success is not always on the upswing.  And losing is not permanent.  It's the peaks and valleys that challenges the characters to promote growth.   And your child did not purposely torture you by performing poorly.  Best to put aside feedbacks for at least 24 hours to defuse strong emotions.  Let the coach do the tennis feedback and moms and dads stick with family values and behaviors.  
Coaches can only do so much to help our child with their success.  At the end of the day, no one loves and cares about our child at the level that we do.  So, if we want our child to be all that we hope them to be, it is worth the effort to also transform ourselves so we can succeed along with them.  No child left behind.  No parents left behind.

Yours Truly...