If you have ever heard the word “potential” tossed around about your child, you may have wondered how you could help your child reach that illusive goal. The following tips of “Motivating Your Child to Reach His POTENTIAL” are from Volleyball Momʼs Survival Guide, by Janis B. Meredith of JBM Thinks Sportsparenting.
“You have so much potential!” How many times have you said that to your child? Teachers often say that about students. Coaches often say that about athletes. The word potential is such a vague term to me.
In fact, I often feel that coaches and teachers use it simply because they have no other way to explain why a child isnʼt performing well. Itʼs an easy default to explain everything from “your child needs work” to “your child just doesnʼt have what it takes to play and thatʼs why heʼs on the bench.” What exactly does it mean to perform to oneʼs potential? How can you help your child play up tohis potential?
Recognize That Every Childʼs Potential Is Different
What is potential anyway? The dictionary describes it as a latent excellence or ability that may or may not be developed.
First of all, everyone has some skill or ability. If itʼs latent, it means itʼs not being used. The question is, what is your childʼs skill or ability that can be developed? Is he quick? Strongarmed?
In order for a child to have potential, there has to be a seed of some skill or ability. Potential doesnʼt grow out of nothing. The first step in helping your child reach his potential is being honest about his skill or ability.
You must not compare him to other athletes or siblings. You must recognize that he has unique gifts. You must not try to make your child into someone that he cannot be. We must recognize that each childʼs potential is his alone.
Look for the Seeds
In order to determine if your child truly has potential in sports, look for the seeds of that latent skill or ability.
• Spend time playing the sport with him. As you watch him play and have fun, you will begin to see seeds of potential.
• Listen to what the coaches say. They are objective observers who can pick up on latent skills and abilities.
Water the Seedling
When you see that little seedling of skill or ability, then it is your job to water it—or have it watered by others—so that it keeps growing.
We water the seeds of skill and ability—the potential—by:
• Praising even the smallest step in the right direction. No improvement should go unnoticed and unacknowledged.
• Showing interest in your childʼs achievements by paying attention to her thoughts and feelings.
• Encouraging and supporting his dreams, even if you inwardly doubt them.
• Encouraging her to set his own goals without putting your own expectations on her. • Providing opportunities for your child to learn how to develop her talents.
Search for Causes of Stunted Growth
When a coach uses the potential phrase next time to describe your child, ask for specifics.Donʼt let him or her off the hook with the pat answer, “your child has potential.”
Many coaches give this answer by default because they canʼt think of anything better to say. Make them explain what they mean. Ask them what they really see. What do you feel he has potential in? What latent abilities or skills do you see in him? How can I —how can WE—help him develop those skills and abilities? When you ask those questions, you are well on your way to helping your child grow his skills and abilities and realize what it truly means to reach his potential.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife. Married a man who has coached for 28 years and have had three kids play from age 4 to college. As a communications specialist and freelance writer, Her kids are now 25, 22, and 19. Her oldest daughter played 4 years of college softball and the other two are currently playing college volleyball and football. She’s a certified parent life coach.