Whats in your Parents Playbook ?
As a parent myself I can understand how challenging it is to support your child through the varies challenges they have in life and golf. The childs brain is different to the adult and therefore requires an approach that best fits that stage of development. We know that generally speaking the young golfer can struggle with dealing with emotions , self regulation, planning and setting goals, strategy, managing risk , self image/identity. Therefore we have put together some key points in different sections of playing the game of golf that can help parents and junior supports in their handling of young golfers:
< Let them struggle, just encourage and support them to find their own solutions through self discovery. Resist giving them technical instruction.
< Allow your young golfers to improve technical aspects through games and tasks and mimic but avoid right and wrong instruction.
< Give your child more praise on their reactions, attitude, concentration, independence, social skills and self regulating abilities.
< Every time a parent only compliments good shots/results it is telling the child I am only loved at the golf course when I hit good shots. This can lead to fear of failure,avoidance of difficult golf situations, cheating and crying.
< Show them how you yourself self regulate when things go wrong. Children pick up so much unconciously by watching parents behaviours and reactions.
< Ask questions that stimulates independence , for example “what do you think you need today” ?
< Check your own state and attitude, are you in a state and attitude you would like your child to be in ? You cannot expect your child to be relaxed and focused if you are stressed and unorganised!
< Communicate the message that you love watching them playing golf and learning from the experience no matter what the ball and result does.
< Support children to set goals based on character strengths and controllable performance goals such as body language and shot routines and their ability to self regulate. Reward these things but not results.
< Encourage them to plan and prepare / organise their day in advance, on their own.
< Model behaviour and talk in a way that you would like to see more of from your child
< Ask your child if he/she wants you to watch them play or not . Ask them when they want to see you at golf course
< Keep your distance at golf course and allow autonomy to flourish even when they are making mistakes
< Check that your body language stays consistently positive no matter what the result
< Is your body language sending signals to your child that everything is ok and they are “safe”
< Give your child a loving feeling after the round no matter what the outcome is.
< Dont ask about scores after the round until your child mentions it themselves.
< Ask about what was fun, what they learnt, what they did well or can be proud of today
< If you watched them play then mention the times that you saw them show good character strengths and when they handled situations well . Therefore the child gets positive feedback and attention on the aspect of personal growth that also helps in life not just golf
< Do similar things after the game whether the round is a good outcome or not a good outcome.
< When back at home switch off from golf and let them see how everything stays same no matter what happens on the golf course.
The diagram below is a simple example of the sandwich technique for feedback :
These are a few points that I have in my parents playbook which I implement when supporting my kids in golf. I also do not do these good all the time, we are all only human and its ok when sometimes its not ok. Hope the ideas can help you help your children to grow within the game.