The trend toward specialization and heightened competition in kid’s activities has significantly increased the likelihood your child will be expected to participate in a tryout or an audition. This is true if your child’s passion is soccer, dance, drama, swimming or virtually any other sport or activity. Kids are expected to endure the pressures of these evaluations at a younger and younger age. As a partner of the Together Counts™ program for healthy, active living, we wanted to share some tips for parents to help your children prepare and take it all in stride.
Tell Them What to Expect
If it is your child’s first tryout or audition he is likely to be anxious simply because he does not know what to expect. Explain he will be doing the same types of activities he does each time he practices, plays or performs.
When you talk to your child, clarify that the evaluators are not looking for perfection – everyone makes mistakes. A child’s reaction following a mistake can demonstrate their maturity and confidence; skills as important as technical skills. Take the opportunity to highlight your child’s strengths by saying things like, “You are the kind of person who never gives up” or “One of your strengths is your ability to keep going even if you miss a step or forget a line.”
Boosting your child’s confidence is important, but so is a realistic assessment of the likely result of the process. It can be difficult for parents to accurately gauge their child’s skill level. Talk to your child’s coach or teacher about your child. Ask where your child’s skills are in comparison to the group as a whole. Ask him or her to highlight your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
We all want the best for our children. It is easy to believe “the best” is the most challenging part, or a roster spot on the most competitive team. However, the purpose of the evaluation process is to place your child with children of comparable skill and commitment to ensure his continued growth. Your child will not thrive in an environment where he feels he is often falling short of expectations. Each child develops at his own pace. This is true of physical stature, technical skills and social skills. All are important in an assessment.
Based on your observations, and the feedback you received from your child’s coach or teacher, help your child develop realistic goals.
Above all, make it absolutely clear to your child your love is not conditioned upon the outcome of the assessment. Your child should know, without any doubt, you are proud of him no matter the result. Your only expectation should be for your child to put forth his best effort.
If you still have a bit of time prior to tryouts, there are a few things you can do to prepare your child. Your child can spend time working to improve his skills. Focus on the skills your coach or teacher identified as weaknesses, or the skills you know the evaluator will be looking for. Typically, this can be done at home. Many athletic organizations offer pre-tryout camps to help prepare athletes and supplement practice at home. If this is not available in your activity or area, you can ask your coach or teacher to schedule a tryout practice for your team or class, or your child individually.
It probably goes without saying, but prior to the assessment be sure you child gets sufficient sleep, is hydrated and eats nutritious meals. Also plan to be early, not just on time. No need to add to the pressure with concerns about missing the assessment or being late.
Explain the Importance of Effort and Attitude
Your child cannot control the outcome of the assessment. She can control her effort and attitude. Evaluators look for children who are giving their all. It is an indication that the child cares and is willing to work to get what they want.
Assessments like tryouts and auditions can be stressful for parents and children. Remind your child to have fun and smile. Evaluators will be looking for children with good attitudes, who enjoy what they are doing.
ActivityTree.com is the nation’s largest resource for kids activities. Each year we help millions of parents get their kids active and involved in everything from archery to zoo adventures. Visit http://www.activitytree.com to find kid’s activities near you!
For more tips for your kids, take a look at these other articles from Together Counts!