The great Bill Russell played a lot of basketball. He was very good. But one moment that stood out to him as a young man was a coach who never said good job, never gave even the slightest positive feedback.
Many years later, well into his span as one of the most dominant athletes of all time, Russell said something about this in an interview and it got back to his coach. The man wrote to him and objected, saying Russell had been so talented that he believed at the time that the future NBA star didn’t need praise from his coach. Russell’s response, in his memoir Going Up For Glory, is worth printing as a whole for every parent with a kid who plays sports, or indeed, does anything.
“The hell I didn’t. Anyone wants to be told they are doing a good job. Anyone wants the support of his coach and this is a lesson coaches should learn in any sport and at any level. It never hurts to say a good word for your player.”
Regardless of what some people say, it never hurts to give your kids a positive word, or to tell them that you love them and are proud of them. In fact, that’s our job. As we’ve said here many times, our job is to help build confidence in our kids–not to decide unilaterally that they have too much of it. Our job is to encourage and support and believe–not minimize or cut down to size. It’s to help them be what they are.
They need that, from you most of all.