As a parent, I have been observing my own children competing in both sporting and music events for a number of years now and I have learned a few things about what to say before and after these events and I am still learning.  I have to say I haven't always said the right things.  The worst thing I have ever said after a less-than-successful performance is "What happened?"  An innocent question on my part that provoked anxiety and ill feelings in one of my children.  This was not really what I wanted at all.   I just wanted to be sure that my child was not going to give up after this experience.   As it turned out, I really didn't need to worry about that and saying nothing at all would have been so much better.  

So what else have I learned over the years?  Reviewing and critiquing performance, especially in the moments immediately following a performance, is not something my kids want from me.   Coaches and teachers are there for that purpose, and usually this happens at the next practice or lesson.  (I  find I am challenged by this as I am both piano teacher and parent for my own children.)  Love and encouragement is crucial -- especially when things don't go so well.  That is what my children seem to want from me.  As in most things, less is more. I have found simple, positive, heartfelt messages to be most effective.  Here are some encouraging words parents can  say as their children perform:


"Have fun."

"I'm proud of you already."

"I love you."


"Did you have fun?"

"I’m proud of you."

"I love you."

Lastly, the words that kids most want to hear their parents say, and this is based on scientific research, are:

“I love to watch and hear you play.”