One of the most challenging things for all tennis parents to deal with, is what to do when your child is ‘behaving badly’. It is likely that we have all encountered it at some time. It could be smacking the racquet on the ground, the shouting,the crying, the arguing over line calls or even bad calls.
If you’ve not said it yourself, there is no doubt that you will have heard a parent tell their child. ‘If you do this again, you’re not playing’. You may have heard more critical comments than this from other parents towards their children, another punishment threatened or even dished out.
I think this is were the quote at the top of this blog is so important, rather than thinking your child is badly behaved and then reaching for a punishment. Think of your child as being distressed and struggling to handle their emotions. They are after all only a child.
Consider the following questions:
- How is your child behaving in squads with their friends?
- How do they behave when they practice with their coach?
- Are they having fun or just being much calmer?
If this match behaviour is not replicated in these situations, perhaps one of the answers is to reduce the number of competitions that they are playing in so that they don’t get so distressed. What about selecting the competitions more carefully so that they are not up against people they don’t like playing against such as their friends, children they’ve had arguments in the past with or children they always seem to lose to?
In addition many children will react to their parent emotions and getting cross with a child because ‘they have behaved badly’ is often counter productive. So again don’t think ‘badly behaved’, think ‘distressed’. (In a future blog, I will give some suggestions as how parents can stay calmer).
As a loving parent it is our duty to look at the situations we place our children in? You may reach for the comment that they’ll only learn by going through such events. However the question is what will they learn? That tennis is not fun and competition is bad. For most of us that is not what we want our children to learn!