With Michigan extending the lockdown and the official cancellation of spring sports, athletes are hit with the reality that their season is done. Thanks to Michele DeSelms at WOOD TV8 for the opportunity to discuss their experience and give guidelines to parents who want to help. Watch below and catch the highlights here:
Athletes are experiencing a wide range of emotions. Some are utilizing their mental toughness skills from sport and applying it now to stay in the moment, control what they can, and focus on the process of living and being safe. Others grieve the realistic losses and feel anxious about the uncertainty of their futures. Still others are finding time to explore new opportunities and take part in the altruism of taking care of others.
There is no “right” emotion to feel right now. Each is appropriate and we are likely to cycle through them all, sometimes within the same day!
As parents, here are some things to look out for with your teens:
Watch for isolation
Friends and teammates are central to teens lives and they may be feeling this loss particularly hard. Online connections through teleconferencing can be good, but too much passive screen time can contribute to the isolation. So…
With all the focus on coronavirus from updates to criticisms, the funny memes, TikToc creativity, and even advice (like this!) about how to take better care of yourself – it can be overwhelming. We all need a break from this virus focus.
Allow your kids to own their feelings and experience their truth without having to feel better about it. We may want to force them to do thing that will help – but that control can invalidate their experience, create pressure and expectations, and increase feelings of failure if they don’t cope better than we want. We can do more harm than good forcing our solutions. Involve them in the problem-solving as they put structure and goals to their day.
Teach emotional resilience
We can teach them how to develop emotional resiliency by modeling and encouraging them to keep balance between physical activity/exercise, prioritize good sleep, engage in appropriate socialization, maintain family connections within house (not TOO much time alone in their room or basement) but still respecting alone time and privacy.
Encourage continued participation in their sport
Training is now optional, but they played because they loved the game, so giving it up now can do more harm than good – especially when sport was such a stress reliever! Yes, it is different but the sport isn’t gone. We have to create this “new normal” and that is uncomfortable. “New normal” is created by doing things differently …emphasis on the “doing.”
And as always, if I can help your athlete adjust to these challenges, continue pursuit of his/her athletic goals, or improve self-care in this strange time, please email me at [email protected].
Wash your hands. Stay 6 feet away. (I am seeing clients online in a secure, confidential platform 😊 ) And be well.
Dr. Eddie O’Connor is a nationally recognized clinical and sport psychologist, and has traveled the country speaking to schools, universities, teams, business organizations, and academic conferences about how to overcome obstacles to excellence.