Finding balance as a fencing parent isn’t always easy. You want to do a great job of supporting your child’ development as a fencer, but it’s not always easy to know how to do that. We’ve all known the trap that some parents fall into of being over-zealous and over-enthusiastic in their child’s sports, pushing children beyond their limits and losing that positive focus.
Making sense of it all is no simple task, but it’s a challenge that you can absolutely be up for. Here are some ways that you can look at your fencing parenting and determine whether you’re showing the light side or the dark side, allowing you to find the balance in the middle.
Giving your young fencer every support that they require is an important part of helping them to be successful. Light side encouragement is child-centered, constantly focused on what your child needs and giving them those things. The other side of that coin happens when parents become overly involved in their child’s athletic career, becoming overbearing and stifling the growth that they want to see.
Light side – positive steps for encouraging young fencers
- Giving praise for a good performance
- Showing joy or excitement when a good point is scored
- Offering time and commitment to your child’s fencing ambitions
- Providing equipment
- Helping to troubleshoot and fix fencing gear problems
- Attend tournaments
- Go with them to see high level fencing
- Support their fencing past high school
- Give them support with cross training
Dark side – becoming over involved
- Interrupting matches with too-loud encouragement
- Confronting referees
- Distracting young fencers during competition
- Coaching from the sidelines
- Making huge lists of things to do
- Planning every part of your child’s training
- Not letting them make choices
*It’s important to note here that over involved parents don’t just cause stress to their own fencers – the can stress out and distract other fencers as well. During bouts, we’ve seen young fencers become distracted by OTHER parents who are being overly loud or disruptive! So realize that this isn’t just about your fencer, it’s about everyone.
It is absolutely your job as a parent to give your child feedback about the things that they’re doing in their lives. You want to see that they’re doing the right things and making the kind of positive headway, to guide them along the way. In youth sports, it’s unfortunately all too common to see these things get out of hand.
Feedback is an important part of working to get your child’s fencing better, but it’s got to happen in a positive, healthy way.
Light Side – Constructive Criticism
- Staying calm and positive about mistakes
- Giving action steps for fencers to take to improve.
- Helping children to build life skills around fencing
- Lending support for balance between fencing and other activities
- Keeping your child’s fencing goals in mind
- Deferring to the fencing coach
- Stepping back and allowing the child to make mistakes
Dark Side – Overbearing /negativity
- Clashing with the fencing coach
- Being overly critical
- Talking constantly about fencing when the child wants a break
- Placing fencing as the only thing valuable about your child
How we present ourselves has a huge effect on our children. Kids learn early on that they can model our behavior, that they can watch us for cues as to how to react to situations. The better we are able to make smart, compassionate, balanced choices as parents, the better our kids will be able to navigate the stressors of this competitive sport.
Children learn more about living by modeling positive behaviors than by verbal teaching. That’s just a fact of how learning happens!
Light Side – Showing positive behaviors
- Showing self-control in matches and in the fencing club
- Participating in social activities at the fencing club
- Performing positive conflict resolution skills
- Staying thoughtful and calm in tense situations
- Showing diligence in attending practices
- Joining fencing yourself!
Dark Side – Intimidation
- Shouting at officials
- Intervening too much with coaches
- Berating kids about performance
- Losing that temper when things get stressful
- Throwing in the towel
- Showing overt frustration at a bad call.
Finding balance between the light and the dark side
The trick to being a successful sport parent means finding balance between the light and the dark side of sports parenting is no small thing. This is an intense and demanding sport, and fencing parents want to make sure that they’re giving their kids the best chance to succeed!
Be honest with yourself when you look at the “dark side” aspects of this article. You might be doing some of these things without even realizing it! That’s ok. We all make mistakes and we all get to keep working on getting better. Show yourself the same patience and respect that you know your kids deserve as you work to become a better fencing parent. The best thing that you can do for your child is to admit your mistakes and improve upon them.
A great thing to do is to talk to your child about your own work for balance. They need to see that you’re seeing places that you can improve too!
Fencing is all about working hard to achieve a goal while growing along the way. You can make the most of your child’s time on the strip by learning how to be the best, most balanced sports parent you can be.