I have coached kids in sports for years; going on about 3, maybe four years now, I have lost track. During those years, I have worked and coached as old as 6th graders down to kindergarteners. We, as parents, want our kids to do well. We want them to have fun, learn, get better, enjoy playing, and get something out of the time and money we put into them.
When we watch, it's hard not to stress about what they're doing on the field, in the gym, or the dojo; we want to be involved. That's great, and you should want your kid to be performing and doing well. However, we have to let go, and they do their thing. We can be right there in the front row; we can be right there, ready to catch them when they fall. However, we have to let them fail if they're going to fail.
As I have been coaching for the last year, I realized how much I truly want to be there and support my kid and the kids on my daughter's teams she is on. I want to sit in the front row of everything she is doing and support. I don't want to be on the stage; I want to be there behind the scenes for her; I love coaching and helping but miss the extra time outside of the organized time. I want to walk out to the stands, not into the dugout.
When we take the perspective of being the support, being the loudest one in the stands, enjoying all the kids and their progress, connecting with the other parents, and just enjoying the moment, I have found myself stressing less about the outcome and more just about the moment of being present and a part of the memory. Also, don't be afraid to walk away; while my daughter does Karate, I tend to go and workout myself, not watch, as I feel this helps us both have that boundary to be able to get the most out of that time and space for her to not feel my eyes on her.
Remember, your kid's extracurriculars should be for them, not you; it is their time to learn, work and develop to the level they want to, and not to your expectations. Let go, and walk away from your expectation. When your kid's team loses, when they lose a match or don't perform to your expectation, let go and walk away from that expectation because your kid may have met and exceeded their expectation of self. By expressing your disappointment, you made them think they weren't good enough or didn't do good enough, and maybe their expectation or personal sense of accomplishment wasn't worth anything.
Remember, 75% of the time you spend with your kids in their lifetimes will be by age 12-13. Let that sink in next time you yell at an umpire, get mad at a ref, or express disappointment or failure. Rather than doing everything you can to be present, loving, kind, and supportive and to ensure they are playing or performing at a high level, they reserve a seat for you in the front row.
Prompt: How to stress less when watching your kids play sports?
How to not take a loss personally when they lose to a team they should have beaten?