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Tips for Little League® Parents

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Positively Supporting Your Child – On and Off the Diamond


Identifying the winning and losing teams comes with keeping score, and parents can easily lose sight of the important steps to success that make that finish possible. Have you noticed that your children perform better when they receive positive reinforcement and praise? The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) highlights this method of encouragement as filling up your child’s “Emotional Tank” (E-Tank).

Children with full “e-tanks” are more coachable. They are more open to your suggestions. They also tend to be more optimistic, deal better with adversity and are more capable of changing their behavior in response to their surroundings. When “e-tanks” are low, kids tend to be pessimistic, give up more easily and become defensive in the face of criticism. Sounds great, but you are probably wondering, how do I fill my child’s “e-tank?”

Here are a couple ways you can fill your child’s “e-tank”:
  • Listening – it is one of the most powerful E-Tank-fillers... adopt a “tell-me-more” attitude. Encourage your child to express themselves.
  • Be truthful & specific with praise – it is fine to say “good job”, but it is much better when you are specific... (“Your effort was great today especially when you backed up the catcher.”) This shows that you care and are paying attention. Both of which are big e-tank fillers. The same idea can be applied to other areas of your children’s lives, such as preparing for a science test: “A better science test score! I noticed that you studied hard, and it paid off.”
  • Non-verbal Actions: smiling, clapping, thumbs up or a high five
And just as some actions are fillers, some can be drainers... be careful to avoid them. One common example is just by ignoring and not listening to your child. Another common one is sarcasm. Criticizing and making corrections during or after the game are drainers. Children know when they make mistakes or do not perform well; they don’t want to hear about it again. Also, non-verbal actions like hands on hips, frowns, eye rolling, crossed arms and heavy sighs are all E-Tank drainers.

Practice filling your child’s E-Tank and see what happens. Try doing it for a spouse or co-worker. It takes practice but it feels great once you have mastered it.

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