The weeks, hours and minutes leading up to try outs or tests can be a stressful time for parents and kids. As with many challenges, parents often set the tone for how kids will act during a particular moment. There are many different factors that go in to how stressed your child will be. Parental involvement can help kids maintain a more positive outlook and create a better experience.
So, knowing this – how can you stay calm instead of crazy? We recently attended a Mindfulness Stress Technique workshop given by Northwell Health’s Joseph Diamond.
First things first – some stress is necessary in life. Stress helps the body stay activated and stimulated. This means that a little bit of stress helps people get in motion.
Too much stress leads to burnout and all sorts of physical ailments. In fact, here’s a list of symptoms that you may be under too much stress. Stress also has a negative impact on the way people deal with other people. Meaning that if you’re too stressed, your personal relationships may suffer because you can’t deal and end up being snippy or nasty to the people around you.
Try outs are stressful for kids AND PARENTS
Knowing that your child is going to be subjectively rated by people who may or may not know them well is stressful.
Like, really stressful.
Watching a try out and glowering on the sidelines as your child may or may not be doing well is really stressful for your child.
Like, really stressful for your child.
Cozying up to the coach and/or trainers to advocate for your child is really uncomfortable for your child.
(Ok, maybe not. Sometimes your child will love this because they’re off the hook!)
But let’s face it. Try outs and tests are a part of life.
And you can help make it easier for your child to deal.
Mindfulness helps relieve stress
Mindfulness is one technique that can help relieve your stress. And we don’t need to tell you – a less stressed parents can often mean a less stressed child.
If you can spare 10 minutes a day, trying the Mindfulness Stress Technique may offer you some relief and perspective. I’ll bet you could also do this with your child. Just try not to say something like, “Let’s try this Mindfulness Stress Technique.” Cause that doesn’t sound very fun at all.
Before you try the technique, consider your mindset (attitude). Dr. Diamond says that the 5 key attitudes you need to have are:
No expectations: this isn’t a give to get activity, don’t think that because you sit quietly for 10 minutes you’re going to become transformed right away (although the benefits of consistent practice are many).
Patience: be kind to yourself and understand that mindfulness takes practice. The first time you try something new is usually the hardest. Everything gets easier the more you practice.
Trust: believe it. Mindfulness works. You have to trust that what you’re doing will work.
Let go: live only in the moment for this short time. Acknowledge that other things are around if they pop into your mind and then file them away.
Acceptance: seize the moments, even the bad.
Ok, getting started
Choose a time of day that is usually better for you so you can try to establish a habit.
Make sure you’ve used the restroom, turned off your phone(s) and notifications and are ideally wearing comfortable clothing. You don’t need to lie down, nor do you need to come up with a word to chant (like in transcendental meditation).
Set your timer for 10 minutes.
Sit upright in a chair with your feet on the floor, cross legged on the floor, or lay down.
Focus on your breath, which is normal.
Breathe in, breathe out.
When a thought comes to mind (totally normal), acknowledge it and then file it away.
Use your breathe as a tool to stay in the moment.
Dr. Diamond had us go through the technique for 10 minutes and I have to be honest. I was very fidgety beforehand and thought there was no way that I would be able to get through the 10 minutes.
But I did it.
It was easy. It actually seemed more like three minutes.
How did I feel afterwards?
Refreshed! Positive! Inspired! Motivated!
But what exactly does this do to help during try outs?
It’s easy to get crazy at try outs. There’s a lot of nervous energy as parents mull about, worried about their child’s performance. Parental involvement becomes circus-like. You’ll hear parents putting down other kids out loud and making disparaging remarks. It’s quite shocking and yet to some, absolutely normal.
My child actually plays on the “B” team. So every season we go through this and it’s amazing how some people act
like it’s a try out for the Olympics. There are a ton of reasons why kids don’t make teams — here’s our list.
I’ve learned to take a step back.
If my daughter wants to try out, I tell her:
- Get a good night’s rest, hydrate & eat enough
- Try your best
- Have a good attitude
- If you don’t make it, it’s totally fine to either accept a spot on the B or C team, or try out for other teams.
When it gets crazy, and it will….breathe.
Be in the moment. Take your mindfulness practice to the field and tune out the distractions.
Or, take a break and try the Mindfulness Stress Technique in your car.
Guess what? Your kid sees you on the sidelines. That’s when a calm parent helps. Your calm appearance will be reassuring to them and may help reduce their stress level.
Try it for a few weeks and let us know if it worked for you. Oh, and if you know doing it yourself will never happen, Northwell Health mentioned that Practice Body Mind Soul in Roslyn offers a series, as do many of the local yoga studios and libraries.