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Help Your Teen Cope with Athletic Letdowns

Blog Help Your Teen Cope with Athletic Letdowns

It’s the end of the sports season and your teen is fired up with school spirit. It comes to the final game, and emotions run high. Then you watch your child’s face as her team takes the loss.

Letdowns can hurt, and seeing your child’s disappointment may hurt even more. However, life’s setbacks teach invaluable lessons and contribute to our development. Help your teenager cope with sports loss with these tactics:

  • Allow the emotional response. Teens can brush themselves off and get back up, but only after processing the real emotion. Give them some space to do so. You can talk once they gain some distance from the game.
  • State the truth. Losing stinks and winning is more fun. It’s okay to say that. But no one can win 100 percent of the time, and that’s true in life as well as sports.
  • Look to learn. Help your child identify what went wrong in the game and encourage his or her analytic skills. Show them the tactical side of sports, beyond just ability.
  • Be a role model. Children watch their parents for all kinds of cues, and processing disappointment is no exception. Demonstrate how to manage emotions.
  • Check your ego. Many teens aim to please their parents, and they need to know that you support them even if they meet failure.
  • Focus on the positives. Highlight your child’s best plays and achievements from the game and throughout the season. Have him share some positive observations of other teammates, too.
  • Share your experience. Recall your own losses and what you learned from them.

These tactics can help your teen turn a loss into a learning lesson. If you suspect that the disappointment lasts too long or worry about behaviors that follow, contact a physician at Riley at IU Health for a compassionate teammate in your child’s care.

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