Preparing Your Child For A Successful Return to the Football Season


Dr. Natalie McCabe, East Sandringham JFC Chief Mental Health Officer and Mum of  2 Zebbies

As parents, nurturing our children’s well-being, especially when it comes to managing performance anxiety, is paramount. Recognising that anxiety before performances is normal can go a long way in helping our children navigate these feelings. Encourage them to understand that even athletes, musicians, and public speakers experience nerves, and it’s perfectly okay to feel anxious.

Fostering a growth mindset is key. Help your child focus on effort, progress, and learning rather than just outcomes. Teach them that making mistakes is part of the learning process and an opportunity for growth. Additionally, equip them with practical coping skills such as deep breathing, positive self-talk, and mindfulness practices. Practice these techniques together regularly to make them feel familiar and comfortable.


Preparing for performances involves more than just practicing skills. It’s about setting realistic goals, breaking tasks into manageable steps, and focusing on the process rather than the outcome. Encourage your child to find relaxation techniques that work for them, whether it’s progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, or listening to calming music.

Creating a supportive environment at home is crucial. Let your child know that it’s safe to express their feelings and seek support when needed. Validate their experiences without judgment and offer constructive feedback focusing on their efforts and strengths rather than just outcomes.


Managing expectations is important too. Help your child understand the value of doing their best rather than striving for perfection. Emphasise personal growth and development over comparison with others.


If your child’s performance anxiety significantly impacts their well-being or daily functioning, don’t hesitate to seek professional support from a mental health professional specializing in working with children and anxiety disorders.

Lead by example by modelling healthy coping strategies and a positive attitude towards challenges. Show your child that it’s okay to feel nervous or anxious at times and demonstrate how to effectively manage these feelings in a healthy way.

By implementing these strategies and providing ongoing support and encouragement, you can help your child build resilience and confidence in managing performance anxiety while enhancing their overall well-being. Your support as a parent is invaluable in nurturing your child’s mental health, personal growth, and success in various aspects of life.