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3 Parenting Tips From Stephanie de Koenigswarter On Raising Kid Athletes

As someone who was raised by an athlete and who is now raising her own mini-athletes, here’s what Stephanie de Koenigswarter has learned from her experiences.

The benefits that come with getting your kids into sports at an early age can’t be denied. Take it from Stephanie de Koenigswarter — a former pro volleyball player raised by one of the Philippines’ top track-and-field athletes, Lydia de Vega — playing sports can teach kids invaluable lessons such as discipline, hard work, and humility.

It’s no wonder why many parents are eager to get their kids into sports.

But, the reality is that the benefits of sports can also come with challenges, and all parents should be prepared for both sides of the playing field. As someone who was raised by an elite athlete and who is now raising two kids of her own, these are Stephanie’s top three tips for any parents who are raising athletes.

Ease them into it

As much as parents might want to tell their kids not to give up right away, Stephanie says, “Number one is do not force them to try out different sports if they aren’t ready.”

Stephanie and her husband are both die-hard athletes, so naturally, they both knew from the beginning that they wanted to get their kids into sports. And so, they enrolled their eldest son in football and swimming lessons when he was only two years old, but she recalls that he did not enjoy it. “He was a cry baby then,” she shares.

Stephanie de Koenigswarter with her family
(Photo credit: Stephanie de Koenigswarter on Instagram)

Meron kasing iba na push lang nang push, so instead of their kids enjoying, they might get traumatized, or they’ll only remember their bad memories from when they tried that sport. So kami, with our child, hindi na namin tinuloy.

(“Some parents might push their kids, so instead of their kids enjoying, they might get traumatized or they’ll only remember their bad memories from when they tried that sport. So for us, with our kid, we didn’t force it.”)

“We gave him some time and surprisingly, he’s now okay with swimming, and then in football, he’s enjoying now. So yeah, wait for them to be ready, and once they’re ready you will see the difference na mas nae-enjoy nila, at mas na-absorb nila ‘yung sport.”

(“So yeah, wait for them to be ready, and once they’re ready you will see the difference, that they’ll enjoy more and be able to absorb the sport better.”)

Always be present

Once your kids get into the sport of their choice, another important part of the journey is your role in supporting them as little athletes.

“As much as possible, always be present to support them. Ngayon ang hirap, may mga working parents, hindi nila nasasamahan or they ask other relatives na samahan ‘yung kids. But if there’s a way for you to be there while they’re learning a sport, it would be very helpful for them.”

(“Nowadays, it’s hard because there are working parents who can’t always make it, or they ask other relatives to accompany their kids…”)

Stephanie de Koenigswarter with her family
(Photo credit: Stephanie de Koenigswarter on Instagram)

Stephanie knows this is important from her own experiences. Even when she was playing in college and as a professional, she recalls, “Naghahanap pa rin ako ng mom ko, and ng husband ko sa crowd if nanood sila. So what more pa ‘yung mga bata?

(“I would look for my mom and my husband in the crowd when they would watch. So what more for kids?”)

“Sometimes they might say, ‘Did you see that? Did you see what I did?’ So, they want to celebrate with someone and they want to celebrate with their parents.”

But Stephanie also acknowledges that sometimes it’s not possible to be around a hundred percent of the time, but in these instances, she still emphasizes, “Always ask them how it went. How was your training? Did you learn new tricks? Did you learn a lot from your coach? Always have that communication with your kid.”

Trust the process

For parents like Stephanie, avoiding being a stage parent might be a challenge. As she says, “There are times na ‘pag ‘yung anak mo, hindi pinapalaro o hindi masyadong pinapansin ng coach, and minsan may times na hindi mo mapipigilan ‘yung sarili mo na kausapin ‘yung coach, or minsan, ikaw na mismo nagbibigay ng opinion.”

(“There are times when the coach might not play your kid as much or might not give your kid that much attention, and sometimes, you might not be able to stop yourself from talking to the coach or giving your opinion.”)

Stephanie de Koenigswarter with her family
(Photo credit: Stephanie de Koenigswarter on Instagram)

She gets it. Every parent wants what’s best for their kid. But, as someone who has been on both sides of the equation — on the court and on the sidelines — she knows that it’s important to trust the coaches.

“Let the coach do their job in teaching your kids and then watch from the sidelines, and the best thing you can do is ask for feedback, like ‘Coach, how’s my kid doing? Is there anything we can do to help him improve?'”

Ultimately, Stephanie shares that while your kids are still young, the most important thing is that they are having fun before anything else and that you are there to support them.

“At a very early age, ang importante sa kanila is to have fun, tapos habang tumantanda, ‘yun na ‘yung mas magiging seryoso, and mas madami ang magiging sacrifices diyan for the kids. But as early as now, let them have fun, support them, and make them feel that it’s not just them who is playing the sport, and that you are always there supporting them.” 

(“At a very early age, what is important for kids is to have fun, and when they get older, that’s when it becomes more serious and when they’ll start making more sacrifices for their sport.”)

Banner image from Pexels.


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