Parents hold the key to the success of their young hockey player—both on and off the ice
By Helen Birk
As parents, we do everything we can to show our children how much we care about every little detail of their lives. We get them comfy clothes, awesome toys, and gaming consoles. We take them out to cool places too. And we show support for their favorite sport—you guessed it—hockey.
Having a young hockey player for a child makes you a legit hockey mom or hockey dad, and that comes with its own list of responsibilities. In case you didn’t already know, hockey is a rough, competitive sport that consists of shooting, blocking, hitting, and falling. That’s why your child is going to need all the help he or she can get.
This is especially true if your young hockey player are determined to follow their dreams of making it to the pros. But not to worry; we’ve scoped out some practical tips that will come in handy and help ensure you are doing everything possible to help your child succeed.
1. Provide Emotional Support
There are going to be times when your youth hockey player walks through the door, wishing they never got into the game at all. Maybe they had a rough day at school, or their game did not end well. We all feel that sadness when our team loses. Obviously, rubbing it in is not the correct way to solve this. “When I was your age, I was the top of…” or “You never do anything right” are not the ideal things to say to your child when they’re feeling down. Kind words and motivation are what they need from you.
Time has proven again and again that those who get encouraged directly or indirectly tend to achieve more. Be their light at the end of a stressful day. Your child is influenced by words more than you perceive.
2. It’s all About Them
This one gets overlooked every time. Your efforts to see your boy or girl succeed should never be driven by your own intentions for them to achieve their success. In our hustle to make a success out of our kids, we sometimes shift our focus from let it be something you love to something else.
Things like monetary gain, prestige, and respect often get in the way, and we begin to push. We end up pushing our children beyond their limits, thinking we’re offering help. Make sure your child realizes that the most important thing is that they enjoy playing the game. And if they’re not comfortable playing at a higher level just yet, accept it. Even when they are “badass good,” allow them the liberty of learning to decide for themselves. Step in only when you’re fully convinced they are not on track.
3. Offer Physical Support
What is the relevance of saying “I’m always there for you” when you’re never there? Of course, other commitments might keep you from making every practice. But you should make every effort to be at their games, especially the playoffs.
Your child benefits more than you know by seeing you in the stands cheering, “That’s my kid!” Children are very smart and simple at heart, and your presence can mean the world to them. Show support with words, and by being there physically.
4. Invest in Them Early
There is a possibility that your child might realize what excites him or her from an early age. If your little wonder is showing interest when they’re young, don’t ignore it. Show your young hockey player you support their dream.
Earlier we mentioned about words and your physical presence. Now let’s talk about the material things. Your child’s equipment bag can be just the small push he or she needs. A kid will always treasure their first helmet, pads, gloves, or especially that slick hockey stick. And the memory would be sweeter when it comes from his parents. Getting them the essential equipment that would help them enjoy their sport (while providing them with the necessary protection) is a very real form of support.
5. Help Them Stay Healthy
We once came across a website that featured some funny quotes from hockey parents. One of them went something like “Ice hockey players walk on the stuff.” Ain’t that the truth? But sometimes the “stuff” cracks, or to put it bluntly, causes cracks and bruises on our kids.
Keep your child in the best shape through regular checkups. Encourage them to eat foods that will strengthen their bodies. Allow for occasional cheating (they are kids, after all) but also help them to understand how food influences their health.
And feel free to enjoy that special treat together after every other game.
Helen Birk is a Toronto-based freelance writer and lifestyle coach who writes extensively on family issues. She enjoys traveling, volunteering, and reading in her spare time. Find out more by visiting her website.