Before You Hit Send, Storm out on the Floor or Switch Gyms: 10 Things to Remember When You are Angry at Your Child’s Coach or Gym Club
- Take several deep breaths. Breathing helps to keep yourself from moving into fight or flight, regulating your emotions.
- Check in to see if there is a real emergency. Or can it wait? Is your child in danger, so you need to pull her from practice? Or can it wait until the end of practice or even until the following day?
- Remember that anger is a defense against a threat. Sometimes that threat is real, but not typically. Usually our anger comes from fear or sadness from old emotional scars that triggers us to go into fight, flight or freeze to try to dull those feelings.
- It is highly unlikely that you know the whole story, that you ever will or that it is even appropriate for you to know it. You need to pause your emotion to find out all the relevant information before flying off the handle (or you can look like a real fool when you shout at the coach for kicking your teen out of practice only to find out that she mouthed off in a manner that would have caused you to ground her for a week). In other instances, such as hiring or firing of gym employees, you can never know the entire story because it would be unprofessional (and illegal) for the employer to discuss their reasoning for terminating a coach. Remember: seek first to understand.
- Assume good faith. If you fundamentally trust the coaches and the gym then grant them the benefit of the doubt. If you do not trust them, then you have a larger problem then getting angry over a single incident. That might be the real root of the problem and one worth exploring.
- When your child is upset, it is natural that your adrenaline will spike, but it does not mean you need to act. It does mean that while you are experiencing this rush of emotion you do need to be empathetic with yourself, acknowledging how upset you are. Nevertheless, simply because you are upset does not mean that this is your battle to fight. It might be appropriate for your child to work it out on her own. Additionally, as the parent it is your job to help your child work through her feelings in a constructive way so you need to try to put on pause your own reaction so you can be there for her.
- You are allowed to have big feelings, just limit your actions. I want to be clear: I am not suggesting that you quash your feelings of anger or frustration. You should feel what you feel. Just hold off on acting on those feelings until you are calmer and more able to be rational.
- In fact, don’t even try to evaluate if your emotional reaction is too strong or unfair. Just feel them. But I repeat: don’t act.
- Separate what is fact and what is story that you might be telling yourself. Fact: Your daughter was removed from practice. Story: Because the coach dislikes her because she isn’t as talented as her teammates and she has ADHD. Fact: Your child’s favorite coach was fired. Story: The gym is unfair and ruined the career of a great person who your child cannot do gymnastics without. Reframing the situation in neutral language, sticking with facts and avoiding stories, can help your emotions calm down and reveal your own biases.
- Be empathetic toward your angry feelings; it will help them pass. Being self-compassionate helps wind down your strong emotions. Write them down or share them with a non-gymnastics related friend (sharing them with a gymnastics friend is probably gossip and is not likely to be useful).
After you have calmed down, you can email, call or speak in person to the coach.
When you effectively manage your emotions and are open minded in your communications, not only will you be more likely to talk effectively with your child’s coaches, you also will likely strengthen your relationship with them too.
Of course all of this saintly advice is often easier said than done…so if you remember nothing else, just go back to suggestion one and breathe!
Finally, dear coaches and club owners, go back and change the title of this blog to Before You Hit Send, Throw Her off the Floor, Quit Your Job or Fire a Family: 10 Things to Remember When You are Angry at Your Athlete or Her Parents…the advice hold up just the same!
Remember: we are all in this together, to give the kids the best possible experience with the sport.