A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son had a soccer game. I’ve always loved watching him run around on the field, giving it full effort, working with his teammates, going for it. To be honest, this last game didn’t really represent these things. He wasn’t playing to his full potential and I could tell he was being timid out there. As a dad, my competitive juices start flowing and I admit, it’s hard to be super positive after a game like that.
As we were walking back to the car, we recapped the game. We talked about the challenges, set backs and some positive stuff as well. I told him that he did great and that I was proud of him for getting out there and playing. Then the dad-fail came….immediately after the compliment, I mentioned that he seemed a little tired, maybe intimidated and that he didn’t really seem to play like the kid I know. Stupid mistake.
Soon after we got home, my son called me out. With frustration in his voice, he told me that I had really discouraged him. That I told him I was proud of him one second and then immediately went to something negative, deflating any encouragement given. You know what, he was right, I messed up.
Sure, it’s ok to offer constructive criticism to our children, but at the proper time. My timing was bad and I apologized.
What a great lesson for me to learn as a dad. Sometimes, kids don’t need us to fix them or offer them advice. Sometimes, they just simply want to know that we’re proud of them.