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Staying Grounded in the Stands

It is the bottom of the last inning, and your child is on the mound. You know (as every parent has mumbled) that he needs a perfect inning to win the game. You find yourself sweating, your heart is racing, everything else around you fades away except for your child’s hand on that ball. This is a youth sporting event, and you are so anxious, you cannot even cheer for your child. Then a ball is called instead of a strike and all the team parents stand up in an uproar.

Does any of this sound familiar, maybe switching the sporting event? What if there was a skill that parents can utilize to help prevent what Daniel Goleman calls “An emotional hijacking.” If we can remain in what Daniel Seigel calls, “Our Window of Tolerance”, chances are parents will be better equipped to enjoy their child’s sporting event and not risk getting into fights or escorted off the field.

Grounding is a simple tool that can be used in any environment that is proven to reduce heart rate and calm anxious emotions. Starting with your sight, identify five things around you: dust coming from the field, the clouds in the sky, the letters on the uniforms, your child’s mitt, and the catcher’s helmet. Identify four things you can feel: the fabric of your chair, your cold or warm drink container, your cell phone, and the texture of your clothing. Identify three things you can hear: the sound of the ball hitting the mitt, the walk-up songs, and other parents pacing. Identify two things you can smell: the sunflower seeds and Cracker Jax. Identify one thing you can taste: the cold and sweet sports drink.

During the next game, as your child is on the mound or kicking the penalty kick, I hope that you will remember that you too can win. You can be in control of your emotions and reactions, which will allow you to fully enjoy watching your child do what he or she loves.

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