At our most recent ZGiRLS Parent Clinic, we had one of the dads inquire about how to talk to his daughter on the dreaded car ride home from a loss. If you are a parent of an adolescent athlete, you know what car ride we are referring to… Your daughter just experienced a loss, failure, or missed opportunity and she is frustrated, sad, angry, distressed, annoyed…the list goes on and on. But the hardest part is knowing how to help your daughter bounce back from those situations.
This might not always be easy to hear, but it’s very important to understand: your daughter is going to fail. Repeatedly. But, as you might know, failure is not a bad thing! In fact, failure isn’t something that should be avoided. Often times it’s the fear of failure that strangles success. If you can acknowledge and appreciate your daughter’s failures, it will allow you to guide her to her successes with ease and ensure that she consistently enjoys her sport (regardless of her outcomes during competition).
It can be very difficult to navigate a conversation after your daughter’s loss; however, here are the three steps you can take to help your daughter bounce back:
EMPATHIZE: There is a very high likelihood that your daughter is already being very hard on herself. Put yourself in her shoes both emotionally and mentally. Empathize with how she is feeling and what has happened. This will allow her to see that you are on her side and most importantly, that you are not disappointed in her.
RECOGNIZE: By far one of the hardest steps is to help your daughter recognize that SHE IS NOT HER RESULT. Just because she may have lost her game, does not make her a failure as an athlete or as a person! Make sure she can separate her performance from her outcome. Ask her to give you two examples of things she did well during her game. They don’t have to be big accomplishments, but maybe a certain skill or moment during her performance that was positive.
STRATEGIZE: Now it’s time to strategize on what she can improve upon. What are the next steps she is going to take to move forward? Think about action-oriented steps that are under her control. For example, can she practice certain technical skills during the week? Did she get nervous in a high pressure situation? If so, encourage her to practice visualizing rising to the occasion and finding her strength in those situations.
Sometimes this three-step process takes time. You might not be able to have these conversations until hours later, or even the next day. Depending on the gravity of the failure, your daughter might need time to process everything. However, sometimes you can help guide her to the recognize stage by volunteering 2-3 things she did well during her performance.