For hockey families, there are few things more exciting than the start of a new season of youth hockey. Oftentimes, however, what starts as innocent excitement at a whole new season of possibilities turns into high expectations from parents. Too-high expectations put pressure on kids and can spoil the fun of the game for little ones. It’s important then for parents to find that perfect balance of excitement-without-pressure to get the season off to a good start.
One thing that many parents do prior to a new season is to start vocalizing all the rules, and offer the "Remember to do this, and remember to do that". A couple of simple encouragements offered in a positive manner is plenty to get kids psyched for the new season. Demanding perfection or forcing daily practice time ends up being detrimental.
Don’t critique every mistake you see; it’s natural for kids to be a little rusty after a break. Remember that they’ll get better with a little time and practice. Also, don’t focus on “winning” Focus instead on improving skills and boosting confidence.
Another important thing for you to do, as a supportive parent, is to understand why your child is playing sports. If the child is only playing to please you, it may be time to take a season off. Also, don’t be too disappointed if your child doesn’t share your professional hockey dreams. Some kids want to play just to have fun and to spend time with friends, and that’s perfectly okay. In fact, if kids are having fun and getting what they want out of a sport, their goals and dreams are likely to evolve into success. That’s certainly not going to happen, though, if you focus on getting what you want out of the sport as opposed to what your skater wants.
You should also have a talk with your child about things to avoid during the season. Keep your child from calling himself or herself or other players mean or negative names. Steer kids away from “I can’t” statements and help them to build confidence instead of doubt. Reinforce these behaviors by praising fun and teamwork and by being kind to yourself too. Remember, if you keep the sport light and fun, everyone wins!