Being the parent of a teen is a unique world (for you and them!). Your child wants independence, they’re relying on you less, and they’re getting ready to head into the world on their own in a handful of years. As exciting (and scary) as all that is, your teen still needs you in their life, especially as an athlete.
Here are 5 ways to support your teen golfer now and for years to come.
Help your athlete find the positives
Golf comes with tough moments, from sand traps to shanked balls, from high scores to bad tournaments, and let’s not get started on tough coaches. With all of that, there is plenty of negativity that your teen can focus on, which means it’s easy to lose sight of all the good things. Encourage them—daily, if possible—to find the positives. Cultivating positive thinking is a good habit to develop and they might need gentle reminders from you to see the growth, improvement, and positive moments that happen along the way.
Let them drive the goal setting
Since golf is a sport they can do for a long time, it’s easy to start thinking about their future. Could golf help them get into college? Are they on a professional track? Maybe you see that they could improve their score when they seem to be coasting. Whatever it is, goals are personal, and if you start setting goals for your kids rather than with your kids, you’ll likely see their motivation take a dip. Even if you don’t entirely agree with their goals, try to let them take the driver’s seat when it comes to setting the goals that are important to them.
Consider when and how you talk to them about their rounds
As parents, we like to talk about how things went. Sometimes in excruciating detail. Our kids just lived the experience, so they don’t necessarily want to talk about the details, especially right after a round. Pick a time totally unrelated to golf to remind them that you care about what’s going on and that you’d like to be able to talk to them about golf. Let them know that you also want to respect their feelings, so ask when would they like you to bring up golf and do they have any requests, like not in the car right before or after, but dinner would be a good time. Similar to goals, follow their lead, and you’ll notice that your kids are probably willing to talk about it, especially when it’s on their terms.
If they’re not having fun, listen
Burnout is a real thing, but don’t panic if your teen is talking about wanting to quit golf. It might just mean that they need a break, some down time, or simply more time to relax and have fun. They’re at a point in life where their friends are very important and if they see golf as cutting into their time to have fun, well then, golf won’t seem so fun. So, if your teen is talking about not enjoying golf, complaining about how much time it takes, or has lost motivation, consider making some short-term adjustments to allow them to get a little more breathing room in their schedule.
Teach your teens to manage their nerves
Teens get stressed and nervous; normalize these feelings and provide skills to help. Your athlete may have developed some stress management skills along the way, but they’re still young, so stress and nerves can easily get the better of them, especially if they have a lot going on off the course (like around finals time, if they’re struggling in personal relationships, or they’re dealing with college prep). Talk to your athlete about using deep breathing to calm down and turning negative thoughts into positive ones in order to deal with nerves and stress. These skills can and should be used of the course as well. And parents, you can use these skills too—because being a parent is stressful!
Parents, you’re amazing! Your teen may not always see that, but we know you’re working hard to support them. Use these tips (along with the other great things you’re doing), and one day your child is likely to thank you for all that great support you’re giving them.