What To Do And Say When Your Youth Athlete Has A Bad Day

We’ve all had a bad day. Probably for us adults, plenty of them! That doesn’t necessarily make it any easier when your child comes home from school or practice and is feeling down. Now, before jumping to any conclusions or trying to solve your child’s mysterious reason for frowning, here are some tips and advice for how to handle the situation.

Tip # 1: Check in

Good day or bad day, it’s important to check-in with your child. If your child is smiling ear-to-ear or runs right past you to avoid any contact after a day at school or sports, find a way to start a conversation that is more so a reminder that you are there. Your child may spill to you about an instance that happened or may not share anything at all. Take the information as it comes, but show up and show support either way.

Tip # 2: Make sure it isn’t confrontational

Even though you may want to know right away why your child is feeling down, it’s important to let the information come out naturally. Your child may freeze up if you immediately ask what happened and what’s wrong. Focus on keeping things normal and don’t pry. Once your child settles in, it may come out or the bad day may just become a thing of the past.

Tip # 3: If they share, offer a solution

If your child opens up and shares an instance during practice or school that upset them, do your best to listen and figure out a solution. If it is something serious and involves anything like bullying and harassing, these are some ways to handle the situation. If your child is upset about not playing a lot during practice, ask your child questions like “why do you think your coach isn’t playing you?” “Have you asked your coach what you can do to get a starting place?” Guide, but don’t tell them how to fix everything. Eventually, your child will have to figure out how to get that starting role all by themself.

Tip #4: Focus on something that brings your child joy

Nothing quite like ending a bad day with a big bowl of ice cream, right? One thing you can do if your child is feeling down is to do something that will make your child smile. Maybe it’s making their favorite dinner, maybe a family movie or a trip to the ice cream shop! This isn’t necessarily a reward or validation for coming home down in the dumps, but it is just a reminder to your child that they should be happy. You can even ask your kid what might make them feel better?

Tip #5: See if there’s a lesson to learn

One way to grow from difficult moments is to recognize what happened and see if there’s a lesson you can learn from it. If your child shares with you about why the day was bad, see if there’s something you can talk about with your child that shifts their mindset to a stagnant “this is a bad day” thought to a “yes today was a hard day, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tip # 6: Validate your child’s feelings

One way of showing unconditional love to your child is expressing that you hear them, you understand them, and are here for them. This can come across in a number of ways: a hug, pat on the back, hand on shoulder, or words of validation like “I understand today was hard for you. If you want to talk about it I’m here.”

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