All teens face a variety of stressors, demands and pressures that are a normal and important part of their development. These pressures are increased for athletes who, in addition to balancing social and academic demands, are also balancing a rigorous training and competition schedule; working to develop healthy habits; and trying to ensure that they get plenty of sleep.
It can be hard for teens to figure out how to manage these demands, especially the demands associated with a developmentally appropriate social life. Here are some tips for how you can help your teen balance her training schedule and social life:
Help your teen prioritize his time.
There will be lots of events and activities for your teen to participate in, both related to his training and social life. A healthy balance of both is important, but your child will not be able to do everything. Help him understand that he’ll have to make some sacrifices and, with that in mind, help him prioritize his time. For example, your child might want to skip a day of playing video games with one friend in order to complete school and training work before going to a movie with a group of friends in the evening. Similarly, for social events that are particularly important, you can help your child adjust his training schedule. For example, if a close friend is having a birthday party or if there’s a big school event coming up, you can work with him to ensure that he’s able to attend. Sometimes their non-training friends might not understand when they have to skip events or their training friends won’t appreciate when they prioritize a non-training activity, but working with your child to prioritize his time will help to ensure that you find a balance that is right for your child.
Share the importance of eliminating distractions and being focused when completing responsibilities.
An important part of managing various demands is being productive and focused when completing training, studies or other important tasks. There are plenty of distractions around from phones and social media to other teens that want to spend time joking and playing. While some amount of this is good for building relationships and having fun, too much of it leads to wasting time that could be better used elsewhere. As a result, it’s helpful to work with your child to identify and minimize distractions that are keeping her from getting things done or keeping her from prioritized events.
Encourage your child to seek out friends with similar priorities.
Your child’s school friends might not understand a rigorous training or competition schedule, just as some of his training friends might not appreciate his time spent with other friends and developing a social life. However, there are other kids out there that will share the same priorities and that will be working to achieve the same balance. Finding and connecting with at least one or two such teens will help your child better navigate the challenges that come from being a young athlete. Plus, one of the best parts of athletics is the camaraderie and long-term friends that you make. As a result, helping teens develop friendships with like-minded peers can be a great way to support young athletes in their social development.
Help your child develop a healthy perspective.
Being focused and dedicated to their training and sport is important for young athletes, but it’s also important that they understand that there’s more to life than just their training program and the next competition. Helping them develop and maintain a good perspective will enable them to better cope with the challenges that they face in balancing the life of an athlete.
Being a teenager is hard for everyone, but there are added pressures for young athletes. As she balances the life of an athlete, it’s also important that your child develops a social life and gets plenty of time socializing with peers. It can be hard for teenagers to figure out how to balance competing demands in their life, so work to support them as much as possible in this to ensure that they’re not getting overwhelmed or missing important teenage experiences.