For Parents to Consider: Cutting in Sports

Goldberg, Dr. Alan (2017-01-24)  “Cutting In Sports”.  Retrieved from the Parent’s Corner of on 9/13/2018.

… What should you do when your child gets cut? What should you do when they come home with a broken heart? If only there was an easy solution to help them immediately feel better like there is with any other bump, scrape or cut. Unfortunately this kind of cut isn’t so easily or quickly healed. How you as a parent handle this painful experience with your child can help him/her begin to put it into perspective and grow from it.
Here’s Some Do’s & Don’t’s as Guidelines:

LISTEN – Listen carefully to what your child has to say about his/her experience. Try to understand exactly what happened to them from their perspective. In order to do this you must remain silent inside while they share with you the events that led up to their getting cut. Gather as much accurate information from them as possible.

DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING – Remember, your child is reporting from a very emotional place. When they say that the coach did or said “such & such” to them do not automatically assume that this is what exactly happened. They may not be such an accurate reporter at this time. At some point you may need to directly consult with the coach to understand his/her perspective.

LET YOUR CHILD HAVE HIS/HER FEELINGS – One of the hardest things for a parent to do is to watch your child suffer. The natural, knee jerk reaction in this situation is to race in and try to make your child feel better immediately. Try to contain yourself. They are disappointed for a very good reason. They had their heart set on a goal and they failed to make it. Disappointment, discouragement, sadness, anger and other feelings all come with this package. Don’t rush in to save your child from these emotions. In fact, your child needs to experience these sometimes uncomfortable feelings in order to constructively work through the experience and put it behind them.

BE EMPATHIC – So instead of trying to make your child feel better, just reflect back your understanding of the difficult feelings that they are going through. Let them know that you can see their upset, disappointment, sadness, anger, frustration, etc. Really try to step inside their shoes and feel what they’re feeling, from their perspective. Empathy is the main thing that a child needs from a parent when that boy or girl is really hurting. Empathy is what they need when they’re dealing with strong emotions. Immediately after getting cut, when they are still very raw emotionally they might not be able to use your advice, suggestions or words of wisdom. What they will be able to make very good use of is your empathy. Being empathic oftentimes means that you don’t even need to say very much. You can let a child know non-verbally that you understand how they feel by how you interact with, look at and hold him/her.

DON’T LET YOUR OWN FEELINGS STEAL THE STAGE FROM YOUR SON/DAUGHTER – Keep in mind that everything about your child’s sport is for them, and NOT for you. If they have a disappointment it belongs to them. It’s not yours. They were cut and let down, not you. Do not distract your child from their disappointment with your own feelings and issues. I know this goes without saying but don’t get upset with them because they were cut. Do not blame them. It’s not their fault.

SAVE YOUR CRITIQUE OF THEIR EFFORTS UNTIL AFTER THEY’VE BECOME ADULTS – The very last thing a disappointed athlete needs to hear when they’re in the midst of strong emotions generated by being cut is a parent’s criticism about their lack of training, efforts, practice time, etc. This kind of information, even if accurate will not be at all helpful to the child-athlete. It’s really a timing thing here. What they need from you is your love, support and emotional sensitivity, not your “helpful suggestions” about all the things that they didn’t do right. It goes without saying that at all times you want to try to stay in your role as the parent and not confuse what you say and do with the coaching role.