Criticism and feedback are essential to everyone’s self-development. From time to time, we all need others to let us know when we don’t measure up to our potential.
Learning to receive criticism is an important life skill and one that our children should develop. Teach kids that constructive criticism is like offering thoughtful feedback and it can help them gain valuable insight into their actions and strengthen trust between people that matter to them.
The best way to teach kids about how to deal with constructive criticism is through our own actions. Here are 4 tips to model receiving constructive criticism:
- Respond Respectfully
Constructive criticism is not an insult or a reflection on who you are as a person. It’s simply someone else’s opinions based on their interactions and observations. It doesn’t matter if the person has good intentions or is just being mean-spirited.
Come from a place of gratitude and respond with respect as if your critic’s intentions are good . Teach your children to be savvy enough to recognize how valid the feedback is.
- Sincerely Ask for Specifics
Many people are nervous giving constructive feedback and try to be as sensitive and polite as possible. However, sometimes it is their job to offer constructive criticism. Your child will experience this from a teacher or coach whose job it is to ensure their improvement. Explain to your kid that if they receive feedback from their teacher or coach, that it is for their own benefit and with their best interest in mind.
Allow them to ask the one giving them the constructive criticism for specifics on their observations. Vague feedback won’t give them enough information on how to proceed and how they can make positive changes.
- Ask for Advice
Receive constructive criticism with an open heart and an open mind. Show that you’re sincerely interested in improving your performance by asking for advice. Ask them for suggestions on how you can do better. You show a strength of character when you can graciously accept your flaws or shortcomings and solicit advice.
- Share your Progress with Who Offered You Feedback
Respect the person who gave you the constructive criticism and takes the advice seriously. Actively work on improving your performance. Share your progress with the person who shared the feedback with you and proves that you appreciate the concern they’ve shown for your future development. Show them that you are willing to actively take steps to advance.
Do you think that youth sports are getting too intense? Is the level of competition no longer safe for children? Are young athletes being put in danger by the competition, aggressiveness, and intensity of sports? Every day, kids are being pushed beyond their emotional and physical limits by coaches, parents, and even fans. The level of intensity of sports has become so extreme that they are causing mental and physical exhaustion.
Young athletes have also become increasingly more aggressive. Some of the biggest problems are over-enthusiastic coaches and parents pushing a win-at-all-costs attitude. However, it is kids who are paying the price with sports-related injuries occurring at younger ages and practices cutting into family time.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, sports injuries are the number one reason for emergency room visits among kids. Over 448,000 football-related injuries to youths under 15 are treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers and emergency rooms annually.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported that millions of children suffering sports-related injuries could have lasting effects on the bodies of young athletes.
Each year, between 30 million and 45 million American kids participate in some form of athletics. Not only are children joining competitive leagues at younger ages compared to before, more and more of them are being encouraged by overzealous parents or coaches to specialize and train intensively in only one sport.
Former NBA player Bob Bigelow, says that the belief has become: “Getting better means training younger, training harder, training more.”
“What we’re seeing is the ‘professionalization’ of youth sports,” says Daniel Gould, Ph.D., director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University.
“Coaches tend to over-train the athletes,” said Baldini, Chairman of the Kinesiology department at California State University, Sacramento. “When you’re in a multi-sport situation, you have more than one coach trying to over-train you.”
He has observed over the past generation that training and playing seasons have been lengthened resulting in most competitive sports requiring year-round training which increases the risk of injury. “There was an off-season,” he said. “But now, younger athletes are training harder and at an earlier age.”
Many people disagree that youth sports are too competitive or have become too extreme. They argue that the pros of being part of a competitive, athletic team outweigh the cons. Sports teach kids the value of camaraderie and hard work. They get their much needed physical activity.
They discover their self-worth and gain confidence.
And if there is anyone to blame for why kids are becoming increasingly aggressive and are now more prone to injury, it would be a sports program that does not have the children’s best interest at heart, coaches who are too competitive, and parents who push their kids too hard.
Over the years, youth sports have become increasingly intense. Between learning about the impressive salaries of pro athletes and potential athletic scholarships being viewed as the ticket to change lives, parents and young athletes feel the pressures of excelling in sports.
Because of this, sports burnout has become a condition that is on the rise. Unfortunately, it is tricky to detect. Unlike a physical injury, the emotional symptoms related to sports burnout are hard to recognize. Kids who are experiencing it may not even know they are burned out as it is something that has built up over years of constant competition and over-training.
Who is most at risk?
Kids who specialized in sports early on and focused on one sport are at risk of burnout or over-training. It can also happen to children who participate in overlapping seasons without intervals that would otherwise allow them to rest. Or they may play just one sport yet compete on multiple teams during the season.
Children who are also extremely ambitious and intensely driven to succeed are likely to burn themselves out. However, burnout can also happen to kids who suffer low self-esteem and live with anxiety.
Typically, kids don’t initially make the decision to overwhelm themselves with over-training. Often, they are pressured by their parents or their coaches who expect them to compete at the highest level.
Is my child showing signs of burnout or over-training?
Over-training syndrome or burnout is the result of multiple factors which include heightened levels of emotional stress, immune system failure, insufficient recovery time, or fatigue. The athlete’s performance worsens despite the extensive, intense training.
Athletes who experience burnout will go through many changes that psychological, physiological, or hormonal in nature. These include:
- Mood changes
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Decreased sports or school performance or both
- Loss of pride
- Risky behavior
- Weight loss
- Increased injuries
- Chronic joint or muscle pain
- Sleeping problems
- Unable to complete usual routines
Is burnout avoidable? Is it treatable?
To reduce the chance of burnout, take a step back and acknowledge if your child’s sports history put them at risk. Take your young athlete aside and ask them how they feel about the level of training. Encourage them to open up on whether they are experiencing pressure to perform.
If your child is showing signs of burnout, talk to them about the condition and how it is recommended that they decrease their workload. Ask them about what motivates them. Have a specialist assess treatment for any injuries they may have and make arrangements for rehabilitation.
What is most important when a child starts to exhibit signs of over-training or burnout is to create a loving and supportive environment.
Many of the traits required to achieve success in sports are similar to those needed to succeed in life such as goal-setting, confidence, discipline and other leadership skills.
Great leaders understand the value of hard work, accountability, competition, and being part of a team; these are all traits your child can learn from participating in team sports.
Leaders have great communication skills. Playing sports will help your kid develop the ability to work with others productively by using techniques that will also apply in real-life situations.
Athletes learn to communicate through both verbal communication and nonverbal cues. Finding ways to communicate successfully in situations help leaders succeed in business just as it does in sports. Furthermore, children will develop their capacity for leadership by learning how to listen and understand others genuinely.
Great leaders not only come up with the best ideas and can present them to a team, but they are also active listeners for those who have strong contributions.
Decision Making Skills
Sports is great practice for making decisions later on in life. Competent leaders assess situations and playing sports presents many opportunities for kids to recognize when to behave decisively. Through observation and quick interpretation, kids who play sports learn how to make decisions.
The most effective leaders are the ones who display decisive behavior. Often, athletes only have a few seconds to decide if they should make a move or not. Pass the ball or make the shot? In just a matter of seconds, young athletes must judge the pros and cons of a situation and act accordingly.
By participating on a team, athletes learn to develop strategies and work with their teammates to achieve victory. Sports prepares a leader with a competitive edge to set realistic goals, influence others, and solve problems efficiently. Playing sports helps people develop the skills and behavior necessary to succeed in a dynamic workplace.
Playing team sports often involves developing a strategy to confront the opponent and gain advantage over the other team’s deficiencies. Business leaders use similar strategies.
Team Building Skills
Playing sports provides future leaders with team-building skills. Leaders need collaborative vision to develop strategic objectives to promote a cohesive team. It starts with having the ability to hire the most talented employees and motivating them to achieve success.
Through sports, kids learn how their coach’s improve group morale and promote camaraderie. Later in life, they know how to inspire others while focusing on achieving goals.
Kids will express their interest in sports at different ages. And while many parents may think “the younger, the better,” this is not always the case.
There are some children who are physically ready but are not quite emotionally and mentally prepared. Or they may not have a desire for sports whatsoever. And then there are kids who are very keen but may still be considered too young for organized sports.
According to the KidsHealth, children are emotionally and physically ready for organized team play by the age of 6 or 7. Before that age, kids still lack the attention span and motor skills. By age 6 or 7, children are also already in regular school and know how to take direction.
However, if your child shows enthusiasm for a sport before the ages of 6 or 7, do not discourage them. Do what you can to expose them to the sport in the most fun and age-appropriate manner possible. While they may still be too young to be a part of a team, you can still enroll them in after-school programs or engage in activities on your own time.
Make sure that the environment is suitable for their age. Kids as young as 3 have been known to run, dance, ice skate, and dabble in gymnastics.
Many experts believe that there are specific sports that are best for every age group. Kids aged 6 to 9 have the ability to focus for longer periods of time and can therefore be trained easier.
Organized activities such as football, touch rugby, martial arts, swimming, tennis, and running are perfect sports for the 6 to 9 age group. With sports, it is crucial that children understand the rules and regulations which are in place for not just fair play but for their safety. However, this age is still too young for the pressures of more demanding sports.
By the age of 10, kids are much more prepared for sports that are more mentally and physically demanding. Sports like football, basketball, volleyball, and hockey require players to have good vision, coordination and the ability to recall game-play strategies.
When choosing the right sport for your child, a matter of interest and enthusiasm should be the focus. You may feel that they are already at the right age for a particular sport. However, if they show no desire to participate, it doesn’t matter how old they are or whether you feel that they are physically and mentally ready.
With sports and kids, it is always best that kids are introduced to a sport only if there is a genuine interest to learn. Stay positive and encouraging by letting them recognize on their own how much fun it will be to participate. Remember that at the young age of 6, kids aren’t thinking about the long-term benefits of sports. They don’t fully understand how sports will prepare them for life.
And don’t be surprised if your child likes one sport this year and changes their mind to another sport the following season. Let them explore and realize which sport is best for them.