After finishing two years of college, looking back I realized one of my favorite memories of high school was participating in team sports. Being part of a team helped me learn the value of teamwork. Sometimes, however, parents or coaches can overemphasize participation in team sports. When teens are pushed beyond their capacity, they may have problems, such as a sports injury. If their teen suffers from a sports injury, there are many ways parents can help their teens cope.
1) Stay Positive. As simple as that sounds, some parents have trouble following this advice. At first a teen will understandably be devastated that they can’t play their sport. As a parent, it’s your job not to freak out. Let your teen have a pity party for a couple of days, then lead them in a more positive direction.
2) Provide Options. When I could no longer play field hockey because of a hip injury, my mom gave me a list of sports I still could do. Those sports included yoga, biking and swimming. If I wanted to, I could do all of them. Or I had the choice to do none of them. Ultimately, I decided to join my school swim team and ended up participating on it for three years. I was happy because I knew that although the injury limited me, I still had choices. It was my choice to stay at home or exercise, and I wasn’t obligated to do either one.
3) Ask For Their Opinion. In times of crises, most parents seem to like to take an authoritarian approach and try to manage everything that has to do with their teens’ injury. By taking a step back, they can be on the same page as their teen and make them feel more involved in the process. Maybe their teen doesn’t want to do sports at all. That’s okay if they decide this as long as they’re going to be positive and not wallow in self-pity. Perhaps they could fill their extra time with another extracurricular activity, such as joining a club or volunteering.
4) Give Your Teen Some Space. Sometimes doctors give patients the option of undergoing surgery or waiting it out and seeing if the injury improves with physical therapy or time. Some teens are not impulsive and like to have time to think decisions over. By having time to reflect, teens will be more likely to make well, thought out decisions versus spur-of-the-moment ones.
5) Let Your Teen Consider Cross Training. With the promise of sports scholarships, some parents seem to think it is necessary for their teen to focus on participating in only one sport. But participating in several sports has numerous benefits. If a teen gets injured, they will have another activity they can participate in. Their body will get stronger from using different muscles, and they will be less likely to get injured. Finally, they will not get burnt out from participating in just one particular sport, and they will have a variety of skills. They might even find some activity they will enjoy doing as an adult to stay fit and healthy.
While seeing someone you love suffer from a sports injury is no fun, as a parent you are a role model. Have a positive attitude and set an example for your teen.
Photo Credit: BrendaCalara on Flickr