Do Not Keep Us In The Dark

Do you remember the third grade science fair project when the kid next to you brought in fully functioning rocket with atmospheric re-entry capability? Yeah, sure, he did it himself. Maybe just a tiny bit of help from a parent.

Don’t be that parent.

Let her learn to fall and get back up.

Don’t repeat everything I say at lessons as if you have to be the translator.

Don’t jump into it when I ask her a question.

Don’t stand there and constantly say, “Oh, come on!”, or “You can do it”, and do not make excuses every time she struggles.

That’s enough of the “do not items”. What can you do? Do tell me things I need to know such as that you were too busy to grab a snack and she has not eaten in 7 hours. Let me know if she had a really tough day at school, if her dog died today, or if she has been diagnosed with any type of issue that can affect her performance or ability to understand.

When a kid struggles, it can be exhausting to us. We will come at her in 20 different ways in a single lesson trying to find a way into that place where she is hiding. I may be tough, comforting, high energy, encouraging, calm, in her face, giving her space, looking for signs of learning challenges, or watching very closely to see if there are tiny signs of other issues in her life. Those are the things I need to know.

Recently a parent would not tell me that a pitcher struggled mightily with ADHD. It was a turning point in our relationship because, finally, I could very quickly dial into this pitcher. We had a great session and accomplished far more than ever. As we were celebrating these results, a kid beside us overheard me, watched the kid jumping and smiling, and within a few minutes the second kid was tugging on my sleeve to tell me that she had ADHD and wanted some of the same medicine. Do you have any idea how exceptional an ADHD kid can be? Don’t ever call it a disability in my presence.

If she is just coming back from a stomach bug, I will make sure we take more time for hydration. If she is being bullied at school, we are going to make her feel bullet-proof in a safe space we are creating. If she has body issues, eating disorders, if trauma has occurred in her life, and there are other things that will help us get to know this kid and to identify her needs on this specific day, let us know. Then, stand back and we will help her work through it. The perfectionist needs to be handled in her own way, as does the kid with autism.

I do not have all of the answers, but we have put together an incredible team. In our organization we have a couple of Sports Psychologists, a Counselor, a few Special Education teachers, and a whole bunch of former college pitchers who have personally experienced just about anything you can imagine. I do not have to be that smart, but to surround myself with amazing people with incredible knowledge, talent, and experiences.

We can find answers, but only if you provide honest information and let us allow her learn to work through things. In the process we could uncover a special pitcher and incredible kid, we will become better at our job, and everyone will have so much more fun. The more fun she has, the more she will want to do it.

The more we know about things holding her back the better the chance we can eliminate those barriers. If we are in the dark, we can easily misinterpret her actions, perhaps holding her back significantly or hurting her feelings. That is a fear that makes me lose sleep at night.

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