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Can too much football be a bad thing for our children? Kids Coach Naomi Richards takes a look at how parents can help prevent a passion from becoming an obsession.

What do you do when all your child thinks, talks and dreams about is football?

It is in their blood – they want to play it all the time and their football goes everywhere with them. How do we keep their passion alive for football whilst not letting it take over their lives and those of the people around them?

In my opinion we should encourage them to play – after all, why knock a child’s passion for sport regardless of whether they are good at it or not? We should also be talking to them about it too – share their interest, be supportive.

What I do think is important though is that we help them keep their passion in perspective. Let them go to their practice and participate in games. Allow them to take the football to the park or on days out if the location merits time kicking a ball around, but perhaps put some boundaries around when they are at home. For example, they could spend a certain amount of time playing football in the garden but then have to do something else.

You could even put some rules in place so that they have to talk about other topics, i.e. when you are sitting having meals together ‘football’ could be a banned word at the table or they are allowed to mention it once.

We can also get them to understand that there are other activities they can do outside of football and some of these activities they may actually enjoy. Maybe you could sit down with your child and list other things they are interested in or would like to try.

It may be hard at first so start off with a list of what they are good at – e.g. designing stuff, making things – and discuss a project they could do or you could do together.

Explain to them that you love that they are so passionate about a sport and would never stop them doing it, but it is good to have lots of different interests and experiences.

 

As parents we can help them by boosting their self-belief and challenging their thoughts so they see the game as a one off ‘not great’ game. We need to help them believe in themselves.

You can do this by talking about the game they have just played. Get them to make a list of the things that they did well and then a list of where they felt they did not do so well. Let them see the game was not all bad and think together about strategies they could use next time out to improve their game. This activity should help dispel the belief they have about themselves such as, “I am a rubbish footballer” or “I never score a goal”. Alternatively you could talk about games they have played over the past few weeks or months. Can they remember the games where they played extraordinarily well? Get them to write them down – what happened and what was the outcome? Now talk about the days they felt they did not play well. Can they remember them? Get them to keep a journal or written note from now on of when they play well so that they remember they have great playing ability. We want them to remember!

We can also get them to think about why they were picked for the team in the first place. What attributes do they have to be a great footballer? Are they fast, a quick-thinker, a good tackler, patient, a team player? If they weren’t would they have been picked?

Finally ask them how they would feel if they were not playing football? Might they have any regrets further down the line?

Share your experiences of when you wanted to give up or not felt great about a performance and how you endured and went forward to succeed.

Naomi Richards is The Kids Coach – a life coach for children. Her first book, ‘The Parents Toolkit’, was published this year. To find out more visitthekidscoach.org.uk or follow @thekidscoach. 


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