There is no point in hiding behind a finger…Let’s face it! Entering into any kind of situation along with your family members, may bring some trouble around which can be hard to avoid – especially due to the loose boundaries following the family bond. And this is normal! Nevertheless, there is always the risk that this close relationship might put the whole effort in jeopardy and in some cases literally sabotage the successful implementation of the FFS activity. So, what are the most common and frequent challenges that this loving relationship may bring along?

Unhealthy competing – yes, there is mutual respect and deep love among family members. Yes, no one wishes to harm the others, nor do they initially enter the FFS activity with the will to boss around and impose their opinion. But what happens when guardians face the challenge of cooperating with their own children (or the children of others) in an environment when both sides are treated as equal? Are they able to undress their regular authoritative figure, come down to their level, acknowledge the physical and mental maturity gap and give their children some room to flourish and experience the activity without overshadowing them?

DEAL WITH IT! – There is always at least one solution to every problem. And this situation is no exception – you just need to be prepared in advance! A good practice to be able to bring guardians down to earth and help them overcome their extra-competitive attitude against the children is simply…to ask them to switch roles! Use this opportunity within the sports activity to allow children become leaders and guardians become the followers for once!

Extreme pressure – it is true that family members sometimes tend to push their children too hard to perform well, break their records, win the game, succeed in everything. Of course this comes out of love and a strong will to see their children improve and thrive. But how does this work when the whole family is involved in the very same FFS activity? And to what extent may the guardian exaggerate, provided that by involving adults in this mixed team, the level of difficulty is increasing significantly? Well, it is exactly now that the risk of blowing everything off is really high: guardians getting disappointed and children losing interest and breaking down their self-esteem. Wait a minute! Where has the positive side of FFS gone?

DEAL WITH IT! – The solution is not that hard to think of in this case either! Make sure that you set certain limits in advance, in a way that it is clear to both target groups that you are the one and only authoritative figure during the FFS activity, the trainer, the coach, the only person that is allowed to set tasks, define the difficulty of those tasks, ask for more or for less from your team members, advise them or guide them while they perform, and give directions to everyone. Setting specific expectations beforehand, discussing them with your team and making clear that winning is not the main goal of FFS activities, is always a helpful act that clears the air and helps avoid uncomfortable situations.

Exclusion: a real threat– Who can doubt that age brings a long mental maturity, raised capacities and more skills? Logically no one. And this intuitive feeling might be quite risky if left untreated. Let’s suppose there is one FFS activity with multiple smaller tasks. It is rather expected that an adult will be faster, more efficient and generally more capable in finishing it successfully compared to a young child, who will probably need to put more effort, use more time and maybe multiple trials to succeed. Well, if we put this in a competitive environment as usually sports are, this might lead adults to take over the majority of the FFS activity’s tasks, in an effort to finally win the game. And the result? The children may be excluded from the activity as the weaker members of the mixed team, and the FFS bubble breaks into pieces.

DEAL WITH IT! – One thing is of utmost importance here: always keep in mind that you have two completely different target groups to deal with at the same time. This does not allow you to develop activities of one difficulty level for both groups, but rather activities which are adjusted to the needs, capacities and maturity of each age group separately. In other words, make sure that some tasks are lighter and other more demanding, so both of the target groups have the opportunity to enjoy the activity and experience its benefits equally.

Family tension – Remember how people always say that it is unfair to bring work-related stress into one’s personal life? Well, in our case, we might have the exactly opposite phenomenon. Let’s suppose there is tension between the family members coming from some argument that happened back home. And by the time they enter your FFS activity, the tension is still there – frustration, anger, a few tears maybe, and a bad mood. Who can you help your team members overcome this situation and feel capable of enjoying their FFS moment?

DEAL WITH IT! – Relax, this can happen in every relationship, it is ok! In fact, it is your opportunity to offer real resolution to this tension and serve as a catalyst to the release of tension and bad emotions! Exploit your role as the person in charge (trainer, coach, facilitator), provoke their intense and focused concentration on the present moment and “make” them cooperate under some activity bringing them closer towards a common cause: winning is the sweetest thing, and no random misunderstanding is capable of overshadowing it! Even if the family conflict has deeper roots, is long-term and is not a thing of the moment, interacting in a neutral environment and engaging in entertaining tasks can be more than beneficial. It allows family members to distance themselves from the problematic issue, get to know each other at a different level, cooperate and acknowledge each other’s skills and capacities and gradually change their mindset. Something like…therapy! 🙂

All of this is normal and expected to some extent. As long as you are paying attention and observing what is happening within your mixed team, nothing can block you from achieving your goal towards a successful FFS activity! But what if something not as usual is complicating your job?