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The game is over. You have lots of excitement, or disappointment, from watching your child play. You want them to be better, to improve, to grow, to love sports, to have more success. You can help them. You know them. So before we get home and move on with our day/night, you need to share your thoughts with them and help them. Right? Wrong.

Here is some advice from two parents, who also happen to have been college athletes, and are also high school varsity coaches: If you want a stronger relationship with your child, where they trust you, and where they want to keep playing sports, make the car ride home from games a positive experience.

It is easy to make the car ride home something your kids dread. Below are four common pitfalls that parents fall into on the car ride home:

  • Talking about the officials. This sets kids up to make excuses when things don’t go well. We all want our kids to learn how to control what they can, and teaching them to focus on controlling other people’s choices and blaming results on that is not going to help them be productive adults.
  • Commenting on how poorly your child’s teammates played. Those are their friends! It puts your child in a weird spot to have to agree with you about putting down their friends, or fight back against you to defend them. Not really the “sweet spot” for parent-child relationship development.
  • Complaining about the coach’s decisions or playing time rotation. Every time you do this your child’s relationship with their coach declines. This diminishes the coach’s ability to positively impact your child. Whether we like coach or not, that coach can make a positive impact on our child. Let’s not take that out of their hands.
  • Pointing out your child’s errors and faults. Your child just got coached and judged publicly for their attitude and their abilities by lots of adults and peers for at least 2 hours. That is a lot for kids to worry about. They don’t need more coaching when they get into the car with you. They know that something didn’t go well, but they might not know exactly what they did wrong. So, we might need to tell them, but that car ride is not the time to do that.

Want to learn how to make the Car Ride Home more productive? Click here!

Content developed by Crystal Strickland (High School Varsity Basketball Coach) and Kevin Broene (Owner/Operator of Grit Leadership for Educational Athletics).

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