While your child is developing their golf skills, it is more important to focus on long-term goals, rather than short-term objectives. Instead of pushing children to be champions right here and now, it is better to nurture their ability to apply their talent later, when they are ready for the challenge.
In an under-age tournament, there is only one winner. Because children’s physical and emotional development varies, your individual child’s maturity will have a big impact on the kind of results they achieve.
Using under-age tournaments as developmental challenges is far more beneficial than using them as predictors of future, adult success.
You can support your child by considering the following points:
- Ensure they know it is their right to participate in golf, and also their choice. They can choose not to participate and should not feel guilty about doing so.
- Emphasise that a competition result is not the important thing. You will be there for them irrespective of whether they win or lose.
- Avoid criticising them when they lose. They will be well aware of what their mistakes have cost them; try to encourage them to learn from those mistakes instead.
- Be there until the end of their competition or match. Don’t leave if they start to lose or play badly.
- Avoid using collective ‘we’, e.g. “We are playing a practice round”, or “We putted poorly today”. It’s your child’s game. You will be there if they need you, but you won’t be playing.
- Avoid using result-driven questions such as “Did you win?” or “What was your score?” Instead refer to performance – “How did you get on? How did you play?” Show you are concerned about the experience they’ve had, rather than the result.
- Avoid comparing your child’s performance to that of their peers. Focus on their own abilities and goals.
- Reward hard work and progress rather than results. This will encourage your child to keep striving instead of taking shortcuts like cheating for immediate gain.
- Encourage other interests. Golf shouldn’t define your child.