Let Your Kids Enjoy The Sport

Writing from a younger point of view, parents are sometimes too expecting of their children. Not all of us are standout students, people, or athletes, yet we are expected to be amazing every time. I\'ve seen a child walk off the track, feeling disappointed in his race and walk over to his parents only to be verbally assaulted for the \"lack of effort put forth in competition.\" Not only does this lower self-esteem, it makes the athlete feel even worse.

As athletes, we know when we give our best, and we know when we slack off. Parents do not need to re-affirm this. They should be there encouraging their children, not screaming at them because of one lousy race.

I ran the 800 one night at one of our high school track meets. At the time, I was averaging around a 2:35 for a time. Not bad a bad time, not good time, just average. That night I was sort of dragging. It had been a hard day at school and running the 800 was not something I was looking forward to. I ran about a 2:46. As I heard my time, I was mad at myself, but I figured that I\'d survive and hey, everyone has bad days. My mom wasn\'t out at that meet, but my dad was. The first thing he said to me was, \"You know Mom is going to be disappointed with your race, right?\" Now, I love my mom dearly, but she is sometimes a little high strung. I knew he was right, and sure enough, she was mad and told me to start trying harder. My bad race was upsetting to me, but what my Mom said to me hurt worse. Everyone remembers the praise that they receive, but they remember the insults more clearly.

Sometimes injuries happen, and people should understand that also. When injured, people, the ones that are extremely dedicated to the sport, will gut throughout their entire race. They do not give up, even if it comes to walking the last part. They strive only to cross the finish line. At that point they should be honored for having the courage to finish, not scolded for not trying hard enough.

Parents also need to understand that the extremely young kids are out there just to have fun. They don\'t want necessarily to win, they just want to run. So when they\'re out in the middle of the field chasing each other around in circles, instead of \"mentally preparing\" for a race, that should be acceptable. As they mature, children will start to understand about warming up and preparing for a race. Don\'t take away the joy of running before they know what it is. Screaming at a six year old who is doing cartwheels in the middle of the field will not encourage them to race better. It will only defeat them before they start.

So the next time someone has a bad race, don\'t yell at them or tell them to work harder. Simply encourage them to do better next time. Positive comments work so much better then negative ones ever can or will.

Note: Heather Koziel is the assistant college administrator of www.scrunners.com.