Finally! The very first post!
This post is long overdue, but there is always time to start sharing!
While reading this, remember that most of the content here is based on my one-on-one experience with students of different backgrounds.
14 Tips for Chess Parents
Tips for parents supporting their children starting in chess.
Psychological support for elementary school kids who begin to learn chess is crucial to developing a healthy and positive relationship with chess. With growing access to educational tools and access to tournaments worldwide, chess is becoming a demanding sport where competition is stiffening at every possible level. Thus, moving up the ranking, even past the beginner’s class, has become an enduring task.
This leads to the million-dollar question: “How best can I help my kid learn chess and improve at it?” In this post, I share some psychological and educational tips for parents whose kids are very young and new to our royal game.
1. Encourage a Growth Mindset
Teach your child that their abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work, and the joy of learning new things. Emphasize that chess improvement, like any other skill, comes with practice and learning from mistakes. Encourage your child to review their games numerous times and be OK to see their blunders again while rewarding their effort to recall why they made a specific mistake. Try to instill the delightful feeling of betterment and progress and let them stride triumphantly. Remember that it is their journey and their love in the first place, not yours!
2. Celebrate Effort, Not Just Outcomes
Praise your child’s effort, regardless of whether they win or lose. Encourage your child not to feel embarrassed for their blunders during a game. Often, I see my younger students attribute their results to their intellectual capacities and how worried they get when they do not see the immediate impact of their efforts from training sessions. Consequently, we see players who get nervous over whether they are good enough to be chess players. Hence, our approach toward their concerns is paramount in their future interaction with chess. Recognize their commitment to learning and the strategies they employ during the game. Focus on practice and the effort they put into it rather than their tournament result. Congratulate them on completing a week of planned training instead of finding faults in their over-the-board or online game performance. Remember that they are new to the game and do not need statistical analysis of week-to-week performance. Nevertheless, I strongly encourage you to keep track of their time and the quality of their training. Chess is a marathon, not a sprint!
3. Help your child set realistic expectations
Winning every game will not be achievable, and that’s OK. Some tournaments are better than others; sometimes, you must be in the right mind. The focus should be on learning, improving, and having fun. Help your child realize chess can be challenging but that they can be good at it. Kids need to know that chess is more complex than their schoolwork, and they should not compare training with their homework or school projects. Chess training, unlike schoolwork, is geared toward sustainable development, and there is no immediate reward for it. This could confuse kids as they tend to see immediate results in the form of a grade or other affirmation of their capability at school, while they may not see the use of their training in chess immediately in their games. Let them know that it is OK and what matters most is that they are trying to improve.
4. Emphasize Learning Over Winning
Emphasize to your child that the primary goal of playing chess is to learn and have fun. Winning is a bonus but not the sole purpose. Set the bar regarding training: The time spent on training should be spent with a high concentration level. Expect them to be able to use the knowledge from their training in their games and make that their goal and not the final result itself. By doing so, you put your children on the right track to becoming better at chess and set them to evolve into high performers by teaching them to use feedback as a channel to success.
5. Be Patient and Supportive
Encourage your child to keep a positive attitude, even when they make mistakes or lose a game. Let them know it’s OK to feel frustrated but that setbacks are opportunities to learn and grow. Emphasize learning, tell them you care only that they understand why they lost their games, and reward their efforts by recognizing it. Talk to them if they refuse to look back at their setbacks or are reluctant to train harder after a perceived poor performance. In my years of experience as a player and a coach, I learned that a proper attitude toward losses is the key to success for a chess player.
6. Foster Resilience:
Teach your child resilience by helping them bounce back from disappointments. Discuss strategies for coping with losses and setbacks, emphasizing that they can learn from these experiences. Some kids get inspired by the story of famous champions who embody the necessary mental toughness to rebound from difficult situations. But at first, this could also translate into an expected outcome for many young kids and only create further stress. In chess, we usually tell kids not to give up and play till the end when they are at the very early stage of their interaction with chess. Once they improve, you may use examples of great chess players for inspiration.
7. Teach Sportsmanship:
Emphasize good sportsmanship, including shaking hands with opponents before and after games, respecting their opponents’ efforts, and accepting defeat gracefully while making them aware that they should celebrate their victories with proper etiquette and without boasting.
To be continued ……..