Is Your Sports Enthusiasm Affecting Your Child?

by on March 7th, 2015
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At the beginning of the year, professional and amateur sports are more prevalent in society. NCAA football has its BCS bowls and the Super Bowl occurs in early February. College basketball’s conference games are in full swing. The NBA and NHL are also at the midseason point. While cheering and jeering for these sports can be a great escape from reality, parents should ask themselves: how does this enthusiasm affect their children?

There are actions and reactions that can have a tremendous impression on the littlest fans. Most children can naturally side themselves with the prevalent sports fan in the house. As such, they are watching his or her every action. Consider the following situations to see how your sports enthusiasm can affect your child.

Cheering or booing a player. Your child witnesses how you feel about certain players. If you curse at your favorite team’s player for messing up, how does your child feel if he makes a mistake on the field? Making personal negative statements about the opposing team could encourage your child to do the same. Does your child know the difference between your in-game and off-the-field feelings?

Conversely, pointing out how player’s positive attitudes and actions contribute to the team’s success can serve as a good life lesson. This is just as important when a team loses. While there may be some grumblings about whether or not sports stars should be role models, they can present a public display of positively regarded values that serve as a good example to them.

Taking losses personally. There’s no doubt that if your favorite team loses you could feel a little let down after the game. It isn’t unusual for the players to feel symptoms of depression for a few days afterwards because it’s their livelihood and hard work resulting in a negative outcome. But when you the fan start experiencing symptoms of depression and anger for several days, it could be unhealthy. In the psychology world, this can be considered as a form of codependency because your feelings are dependent on someone else’s feelings and actions beyond the norm. If this happens, put your child in your shoes. Do you want your child to feel sad, angry and depressed at school for a week because the local favorite team didn’t win?

This is probably the one area where a double standard can be healthy. Pointing out how the winning team succeeded because of positive qualities can be a mental boost, whereas replaying the negatives can be a downer. And as real sports enthusiasts know, some teams can play to the best of their abilities and still lose.

Idol worship. Your favorite team makes its money by getting you to buy souvenirs, clothing and other items emblazoned with its logo. Conveniently, these items are often made for your children. At younger ages this can be fun for kids. But how would you react when they get older and choose another team or-at-worst- root for the rivals? In a healthy relationship, this friendly rivalry could serve as a catalyst for entertainment and relationship building. It also encourages children to make their own choices despite any perceived adversity.

In an unhealthy relationship, the exact opposite can happen, especially if you make not just physical but emotional choices of your team over the child. For example, if you reluctantly skip your favorite team’s big game to watch your child’s dance recital, the expression on your face and your body language tells your child exactly what you’d rather be doing.
Remember to keep sports fandom as it should be: great fun for the whole family, no matter who wins or loses.

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