The Car Ride Home

Leave it On the Ice – by Susan Caminiti 

The silence was deafening. Driving home after a loss has never been a pleasant trip with either of my hockey-playing sons, but this particular defeat was brutal. Nicholas’s team had made it to the division semi-finals and the next game had looked to be an easy victory. It was not-final score: 4-0-and my brooding son was proof of it. He slammed his hockey bag into the trunk of the car, stomped around to the passenger side, and got in the back seat. All I could see in the rear-view mirror was his 13-year-old furrowed brow. “So that was a tough game,” I offered. Nothing from Nick. I tried another approach. “Well, you skated well.” Still nothing. My brain raced to find the exact right thing to say to snap my son out of his post-loss funk. It was achingly clear that my repertoire of comforting Mom words was falling short. What should I have done on that car ride home? Insist that he talk to me, or simply endure the silence? Nearly every parent has been in the same situation after a son or daughter has suffered a loss on the field (or rink, court, or in the pool.) What you say (or do) in the moments afterwards can go a long way in helping your budding athlete learn how to handle these inevitable defeats-both in sports and in life. Dr. Larry Lauer, director of coaching, education, and development at the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, says the first thing parents need to remember is timing. “A sporting event is intense for a student-athlete and there are a lot of emotions running through them in the moments afterwards,” he says. “Kids are being evaluated on their talent in a very public forum and the fact that parents are watching only increases the pressure. You can easily make things worse by not thinking before you speak.” To navigate that future car ride home in (relative) peace.  


Click HERE for a few tips from Dr. Lauer

Categories: Advice


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