October 18, 2012

Adaptive sports "Buddies"?

Hannah has had her share of adaptive sports teams.   We've done Challenger Softball,  Miracle League, TopSoccer and Adaptive Dance in various towns.

While she somewhat enjoyed it, the programs seemed to be a bit flat.   There were some "helpers" who attended the entire season, but most of the volunteers would just come once or twice.  When Hannah was little, she wasn't going to latch on to a stranger.  She wasn't interested in a teenager who was there for the community service hours.   She did best when she had consistent volunteers who were around enough to build a relationship.

Still, even when the volunteers were top notch, they were way too nice.   Really, is it a good plan to let Hannah think she can make 15 goals in a row while the volunteer is faking missing the ball?  She doesn't need false success.  She needs skills.  She needs reality.  She definitely doesn't need more ego.   She has the highest self-esteem of anyone I know!  

It's not just volunteers...frequently it's parents who over-praise.

Superficial success is just ego stroking.  It doesn't teach anything of value.   Instead, provide realistic feedback.  Describe what you see: "I saw you running quickly to try to catch that ball." , "That was interesting!", "You were smiling out there."   Hold back on the "attagirl" comments.

This goes for more than sports--school work, art, playing games, chores, etc.
Describe that picture--honestly--"I see that you used a lot of blue."  (not:  I LOVE it!!  Thank you SO much!!)

I know that volunteers have the best intentions.  But making things too easy, too fabulous, too fun can be detrimental.

Praise is not encouragement.


This was spurred on by a comment by Hannah today.  She is in a noncompetitive homeschool league, which she enjoys.  It's much harder work to keep up with the other players.  They naturally accommodate Hannah's abilities, but she knows she's not as fast as the other kids.   Today she wanted to skip soccer.  We talked about it a bit.  Fortunately, I didn't want to go to soccer either, so she managed to win me over.   Not too much later she came to me and said, "I love TopSoccer" (the adaptive soccer program she was in a couple years ago).    I replied, "You liked that, didn't you?  But now you have a more challenging soccer team.  Did you like TopSoccer or did you just like Coach Keith? (who happens to be a firefighter--Hannah's dream job)"    She replied, "I always got goals at TopSoccer."  

Of course, I don't want my daughter to feel like a failure, but I do want her to own her abilities.  I don't want any of my children to feel that they are The Best at Everything.

Hannah's favorite and reliable Buddy, AKA Daddy

1 comment:

Crittle said...

Ohhhh, I like this! You make me think.