I’m a youth soccer coach and sports mom/stepmom to four young athletes aged 8 to 19. Our kids dance, skate, ski, run cross-country, and play soccer, lacrosse, football and basketball.

As a sports parent, I’ve dealt with sports kids who:

1. Are stars in practice but choke up during competition (and then get angry at themselves).

2. Worry too much about what their coaches and teammates think of them.

3. Don’t know how to communicate with coaches who give negative feedback.

4. Feel pressured to play—even when they’re sick or injured.

These are just a few of the tough situations I’ve faced over the past 14 years, since our oldest first began playing sports at age five, These are challenging situations, and I can tell you, the answers aren’t easy to come by!

For example, what do you say to a child or teen who regularly gets angry at himself for making mistakes during a game?

You can help your child modify his expectations about making mistakes. Sometimes kids try to be too perfect on the playing fields and expect to not make any mistakes. Modifying their expectations can help them perform without the burden of constant frustration.

Every day as sports parents, you face so many other tough—and interesting—situations. Believe me, how you react to these issues is critical to your child’s self-confidence and success as an athlete! (I’ve made enough mistakes to know).

One really important challenge for kids in sports today is a phenomenon called social approval. Young athletes with social approval challenges focus too much on what they think others may or may not be thinking about them. We also call this mind reading because young athletes have no idea about what others are really thinking!

They often make things up and things that are not really positive or confidence-enhancing. It’s your job as a sports parent to be aware of such mental game challenges. You can become the “mental game” coach in ways that boost your kids’ confidence and happiness in sports.

Author's Bio: 

Award winning parenting writer Lisa Cohn and Youth Sports Psychology expert Dr. Patrick Cohn are co-founders of The Ultimate Sports Parent. Pick up their free e-book, “Ten Tips to Improve Confidence and Success in Young Athletes” by visiting www.youthsportspsychology.com