If you’re an introvert who is the parent of a child that plays sports, you’ve probably felt a little uncomfortable at times while sitting in the stands watching a game. You look around and see parents screaming words of encouragement, trying to tell their kids what to do, or criticizing the officials for supposedly hating their child. It may cause you to want to crawl to the back corner of the bleachers and isolate yourself from everyone else for the rest of the game.
I’m not one of those loud, obnoxious parents you see at school sporting events. In fact, I tend not to talk or say much at all during the games. I can understand that some people will take that the wrong way, to think it means I really don’t want to be there.
But to them I would say: Don’t be so quick to judge. I do want to be there. As an introvert, I just don’t show emotion the same way you do. That’s just not what it means to be an introvert.
I’m not just like this at my stepson’s games. I tend to show little emotion while watching any sporting event. I’m a huge Chicago Cubs fan, and even when they win (or lose) a big game, I may have a lot of emotion on the inside, but most of the time, I don’t show much emotion on the outside. If I do that, it detracts from my ability to observe what’s happening, to absorb everything around me and to enjoy the moment.
Introverts are thinking, reflecting people, and I can’t do that if I’m busy yelling or jumping up and down. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I used to think there was something wrong with me because of this, but now I’ve learned to embrace who I am.
How to Show You Care Without Screaming From the Stands
Now I know that when we go to our kids’ games, we are there for them. Our needs should come after that. But at the same time, I can’t be the best parent I can be unless I be myself. One reason I don’t scream and yell from the stands is because I know the players have coaches telling them what to do, and I don’t want my behavior to be a distraction.
But besides that, it’s just not me.
Because of that, I’ve had to identify other ways I can let my stepson (and my wife) know that just because I’m not showing much emotion on the outside doesn’t mean I don’t care about him or the game. If you’re an introvert who is uncomfortable showing emotion during your child’s game, here are seven other things you can do to let them know you care:
1. Wear gear that supports the team. I have a T-shirt with the logo of my stepson’s school on it. I make sure I wear it on weekends or on other days I know I will be around my family a lot—even on days there is no game, so they can see that I support the school.
2. Offer words of encouragement before the game. If you’re an introvert, you may not be into giving motivational speeches or trying to get your kid riled up before a big game. That’s okay. They have coaches for that. You can still tell them to try their best or wish them good luck. You can even give them a pointer or two, if you feel you know enough about the game that it would help.
3. Keep your eyes on the game. I’m always amazed at how many parents are on their phones while their child’s game is going on. I make sure I keep my phone in my pocket and wait until halftime or after the game to read emails or texts. When children look for their parents in the stands only to see them staring into their phone, it sends a bad message. But if they look up and see you paying attention, that’s a simple yet great way for them to know you care. There’s nothing on Facebook that’s worth missing an important moment in your child’s life. Unless it’s an emergency, it can wait.
4. Talk about the game afterwards. This may be as simple as letting the child know that they did a great job or that you appreciate them giving a strong effort. But you can also ask them questions about specific plays or moments in the game to let them know you were paying attention.
5. Post on social media about it. If you want to let your family and friends know that you’re proud of your child but aren’t into loud cheering, why not get on Facebook and tell them? You could even take a picture from the game and post it. Many introverts are more comfortable doing this than hooting and hollering in person.
6. Write an article about the game or your child. We know how much introverts like to think, reflect, and find deeper meaning in everyday events. When you get home from the game, sit down at the computer, think about what you saw, and write a blog post about it. Then, share it with people you know. Not only will you show how much you care about your child, but you will also have something you can read to them years later that will allow them to think back on the great times they had playing sports.
7. Keep showing up. The fact that you take the time to attend your child’s game—not to mention all the other time you need to invest taking them to practices and team meetings—shows how much you care. If another parent in the stands doesn’t like the fact that you’re not cheering as loudly as they are, that’s their problem, not yours. By just being there, you know you’re supporting your child and they know you’re there for them. That’s all that should matter.
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