How to Encourage Your Shy Child in Team Sports

Any parent with a shy child knows that being put in front of a large crowd and asking them to perform well is like a death sentence. Crying, panic attacks and failure are nearly a guaranteed result. There is a distinct difference between children who don’t like sports and those who just break down at game time. So, how do you get your child to enjoy team sports and participate in all that a team requires? The answer will depend on your child, but here is a great place to start:

1. Have a Talk with the Coach. This is the most important step to helping your child move forward. It is important that the coach understand your child’s issues and allow for them to be worked through. For instance, in the case of my child, she always did well in practice, but broke down at game time. She was actually one of the better players on the team, but just couldn’t pull it together for the games. The coach was very frustrated and assumed I was coddler her too much by not pushing her to stay in the game. After my talk with the coach, however, he just encouraged her to come to the first two games and told her she didni’t have to play. Then, he said she could just play one quarter (it was soccer). Having the coach understand why things are happening will change their attitude and allow the coach and child to communicate in a positive manner.

2. Encourage and Support Your Child. Don’t push too hard, but don’t let them quit either. Allowing them to quit will not help them in the long run. Even if it means only playing one quarter, or even one play of the season, they are on a team. Teaching them to work through hard times and knowing you are there to help them will build their confidence. The sense of accomplishment they experience will bleed over into other areas, like school.

3. Allow Them to Express Their Emotion. If they need to cry, let them. For a shy child to work through performing in from of large groups of people is a very bold and courageous thing. It takes a lot of energy and sometimes they need a release.

Whenever your child has issues, you must delicately balance encouraging them to be strong and finishing the task with allowing them to move at their own pace. Helping your child become more self-confident and overcome some extreme shyness is a process that must be taken step-by-step, but its one that every child can win.

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