When Your Teen Is a Sports Superstar

As the parent of a sports star, don't overemphasize your child's gift. It's important to strike a balance.

Your teen is the best player on the team, so your problems are over? Not so fast, say the experts. While it's great to have a child who's terrific at anything, your super athlete needs guidance, too.

First, compliment your teen on her successes so it's clear she's always “number one” in your book.

But even if your teen saved the day for the team, don't cast her as the game hero. Repeated often enough, this kind of praise may turn her into an insufferable teammate. Instead, focus on a specific moment that was particularly terrific. Teach your teen that she has something wonderful to share, and that only through cooperation can a dynamite player end up on a dynamite team.

You may consider yourself a sports “expert” and be inclined to make suggestions about how she can improve her game. Tread cautiously here. If you talk about ways to improve right after a well-played game, she may think, “I was good, but I'm still not good enough to please my parents.” That can put tremendous pressure on her at an age when her self-esteem is particularly vulnerable.

Sometimes parents of a child who is particularly successful at something—whether it's playing baseball or writing poetry or solving equations—fall into the trap of overemphasizing that single gift. No matter where his special talent lies, appreciate all aspects of your teen. In addition to enjoying the way your teen pitcher controls the ball, let him know that you also think he's a great storyteller or amazing at math. No one should be valued for their strike-out record alone.

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