Think back to the FIFA World Cup last year and you’ll remember manager Gareth Southgate became somewhat of a national hero. Unusually for the British press, it wasn’t about winning, it was about being the best team we’ve had for a long time.
Central to this, was Southgate’s performance on and off the pitch.
Rather than being a ‘shouty’, hot-headed controlling manager, he astounded us with his cool, calm composure, allowing his team to do everything that they had learnt in practice. Some call this spectator silence.
It’s a trait that we as parents can put into practice, especially when we’re standing at the side-lines. Whether it’s daily sports practice or training for a big event, the power of silence is, as they say, golden.
Here’s a few of the notable benefits of spectator silence when your child is taking part in sport:
When there’s no-one to turn to and when the chips are down, it’s natural to want to get involved. Don’t do it! Allowing your child to problem solve on their own terms increases autonomy. It forces them to make decisions on their own, be it good or bad, the experience outweighs the outcome.
Learning from mistakes
Learning from setbacks is one of the best ways to develop and grow as a person. Sport teaches this to us maybe more than any other discipline, as it encourages us to hone our art. And while it can be subjective, there’s also techniques and skills to learn along the way. By holding back, children are inclined to make mistakes, and while this can be painful to watch, it’s also the best way to learn.
Pushy parents – no-one wants to be one. Adopting spectator silence is another way of holding your tongue. But it goes beyond this. It’s about taking the pressure off your child in an already stressful environment. The distraction of a shouting parent trying to tell them what to do next is less than desirable on the pitch. You want your child to trust their own instincts after all and this is one of the best ways to do it. By taking a step back, you are effectively taking unnecessary pressure off your child.
Increases coping skills
It’s a jungle out there, so you’ll want to equip your child with the skills to cope in difficult situations. By holding back, you are allowing your child to problem solve on their own terms. This encourages them to think for themselves, and independent thinking is especially important to building resilience and coping strategies.
Wellbeing is more than a buzzword, it’s an overview of one’s mental health at any given time. In today’s world where there are more stresses and external pressures than ever before, it’s important to manage feelings of anxiety. You can avoid contributing to this by adopting spectator silence. If you’re always interfering from the side-lines, you may not realise that you are adding to their pressure.
Helps creativity flourish
It’s often said that we do our best work when we remove barriers around us. If you want to create a world without limits for your child, then trying to keep a distance when they are taking part in sports or events is a positive step. This will allow them to get in the zone and show off their true personality and skills. In turn, this helps children become more creative in their approach and style.
Improves decision-making skills
When you’re forced to make a decision for yourself, it builds self-confidence and decision-making skills. As tempting as it might be to make decisions on your child’s behalf, by keeping a respectful distance, you are empowering them to achieve success on their own terms, and that’s an important lesson to learn.
Kids love to have fun, and the best way to promote this is by giving them a healthy amount of space. Children enjoy themselves more and in turn have more fun, when they are able to get on with things on their own. It helps build their interpersonal skills and social skills too.
Think of the immense sense of achievement and satisfaction when you know that you achieved something on your own. Something without the interference of other external forces, or help from anyone else. When children reach pre-school age we start to see signs of independence coming through. This is nature’s own way of telling us to back off! From developing problem solving skills to mastering new ways of working, this is one of the happy by-products of spectator silence. As a parent, this is also highly rewarding too.
One of the best ways to boost your child’s self-confidence is to empower them to make decisions on their own. By taking a stand back, their sense of worth and confidence grows, as they learn to realise that they can accomplish feats without the help from others.
We’ve talked a lot about problem solving skills. This is massively important to equip children with the right skills to tackle the many challenges they will face in life. If there’s one way that being a silent spectator can help, it’s by allowing children to deal with difficulties on their own. This in turn builds their confidence and sense of self-worth.
Improves coach-athlete relationships
As a sports coach, it’s important to have a fluid relationship with your athlete. This is best achieved when outside influences are removed. Allow your child the opportunity to develop personal relationships by taking a respectful stand back. Your child and sports coach will thank you for it.
Encourages risk taking
Risk-taking might not sound like something you want to encourage. However, you want to equip your child with the ability to know the difference between the right risks to take, and those not to. Wrapping your child up in cotton wool and being there to protect them at all times can be more of a hindrance than a help in the long-term.
So, give them the space they need to make mistakes, take risks and see which ones pay off so that they can learn for the future.
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