Stop doing this if your daughter is struggling with self-confidence
If your daughter’s struggling with confidence stop doing these 5 things right now!
To you, she’s still your little girl. In your mind’s eye she’s barefoot, bright-eyed and chocolate stained. She’s chasing fireflies and frogs and full of carefree joy. Of confidence. You knew then, as you know now, your daughter can do anything.
Yet, now she is chasing goals and dreams that are much harder to trap in a pickle jar. That joy seems to have been replaced with doubt and despair.
So what can you do to help your daughter catch some of that confidence back?
First, it's necessary to look at some of the things you must stop doing.
Stop Diminishing Her feelings.
When she says she doesn’t feel capable. Doesn’t feel she’s fast enough. Doesn’t feel her coach listens to her. Doesn’t feel anyone on the team likes her. Or doesn’t feel she’s skinny enough to wear her uniform. Don’t automatically correct her. In sharing how she feels, she is opening a window into her fears, her doubts, her inner dialogue. If you automatically tell her her feelings are wrong, she will shut that window. And who knows when or if she’ll open it again. So listen. Don’t diminish, empathize. Say instead, “I’m sorry to hear you feel that way.” Or, “I know that has to be scary, or intimidating, or frustrating.”
Stop coaching her.
Oh this one is so hard, I know. But your daughter has a coach. Your role is Parent. You are her number one mode of support. So be that first. When you watch her play. Don’t tell her where to put her hands, or where to look, or what to stop doing. While she is playing, she needs to spend all her focus and all her energy on the game. If she has to decipher advice between her coach and her parent, she is simply wasting energy. After the game, she’s tired. (and probably hungry). She knows how the game went, she heard a breakdown from her coach, she just wants to know you’re proud of her (and probably a sandwich). Instead of giving your game analysis, all you need to say is, “I love to watch you play.”
Stop telling her she messed up.
Guess what, she knows. All the mistakes made in her game, she knows. When she hit the ball out of bounds, she knows. When she should’ve passed but took a bad shot, she knows. When she dropped the catch, guess what, she knows! Your daughter does not need anymore reminders of how she messed up. She heard it from her teammates, from her coaches, from the fans, and again, she already knows herself. So she doesn’t need to hear it from you. Instead, say, “Good hustle today.” “I’m proud of you.” “I can tell you were hard on yourself today, but I think you handled yourself really well.”
Stop solving her problems.
She doesn’t like the lineup decision her coach made? Don’t call him. She has a bad call against her? Don’t cuss out the ref. She doesn’t want to go to workout before school because it’s too early? Don’t call her in sick. Confidence is not an adversity free endeavor. Confidence is built when she does things she was first scared to do. Mommy or Daddy kissing away all her boo boo's is okay when she is five. Not when she is 15. If her goals are really her goals. If her talent is really worth training, then she needs to take responsibility for them. From you, she needs the confidence and encouragement that she can embrace her own dreams by using her own voice. Instead of fixing, encourage. “I can see why you’re upset by that decision. Have you talked to your coach about it?”
Stop comparing her.
Just as she carved her own path as a little girl, she is still doing so. Sports give us statistics. They give us markers and checking points. The danger in that is they are often a substitute. Female athletes can feel as though their only value is whatever statistic or score they put up. Or in what they used to put up. This is a dangerous game. If your daughter is in a slump, she may be feeling she will never be good enough. As though her best days are behind her. If your daughter has lost her position, or has a real quality opponent, she may feel she will always be second rate. Stop the comparison game. Stop “Well your sister…” “When I was your age…” “Last year you were batting…” If she is struggling, if she is currently questioning her capability, comparison will only make it worse. Instead, focus on her effort. Focus on what is in her control. Point out the small victories she is doing. “I could tell you’ve been frustrated, but you’re still waking up early and getting to practice. I am so impressed by how hard you work.”
Your daughter is capable, worthy, and just as fierce as she was all those years ago. Sometimes, she just needs a reminder.
And who better to do that than the person who loves her most?
Play you, Coach D
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