Patricia Ramírez

Sports and health psychologist

"A disciplined person trains their will power, which is very important for professional success"

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I believe there is no such thing as a demotivated student, but merely students who need to find out how to harness that motivation. For me, it is vital that young people get involved in sport. When people start to enjoy themselves and become more interested in sport, they also start to get more involved and engaged in it. It is all about giving Physical Education the importance it should have. as I believe it's just as important as mathematics and languages. There's scientific data to demonstrate the benefits of sport. It teachers different values such as cooperation, communication and discipline and helps students to learn to concentrate and pay attention, which are skills they need in order to study. It also encourages them to become more disciplined and determined. There are only advantages, so we must help to make it motivating, with small competitions that are not overtly competitive, and we must encourage spaces where people can do sport, particularly girls. From the age of fourteen or fifteen, teenage girls start to abandon sports more than boys of the same age. We have to encourage boys to go to watch matches the girls are playing in and promote participation.

I think it is important to pass on to parents the idea that sport is not punishment. Often, if a child gets a poor grade, their parents might say to them, "Now you can't play soccer." However, if you do this, you're depriving them of a part of their lives that's as important as sleep. If you ban your child from playing soccer, they're missing out on an opportunity to relate to other kids of the same age, practice values and above all, perform an activity that's strengthening their cognitive functions. I'm not saying you can't chastise your children, just that you should look for other ways to do it and should never use sport as a punishment.

"In order to communicate better with your children, try asking them if they actually want your advice, rather than just giving it anyway. That is a way of awakening their interest"

It is very important to educate about effort. Nowadays, lots of parents overprotect their children and don't ask things of them so they don't get frustrated. However, the message this sends to kids is: “Don't worry about it, be as irresponsible as you like as someone else will be there to deal with the consequences." To be successful, you have to make an effort at work, in your relationship with your partner, your living arrangements and everything else. Making an effort is a basic requirement. That's why we also need to instill that pleasure has to come after duty. It is very important to educate about respect. Children should learn about respect both at school and at home, as, in order to form healthy relationships, you need to be respectful. And discipline. and this means having schedules, order and routines. Without discipline, you can't obtain your objectives. In order to be successful in your professional life, you have to be able to exercise self-control and willpower.

Let's not kid ourselves, punishments definitely work. However, the collateral damage caused by punishing a child is immense. This is because when you punish a child, they become fearful and they no longer trust you because they're scared you'll punish them again. I don't recommend handing out punishments. There are other learning techniques that are much more effective. The first is reinforcement. This means paying attention to anything your child does well so you can praise them and boost their confidence. Anything you say has to be based on values, such as: "I hope you're proud of how much time you spent studying; look at the results you got. Above all, it's you who should be proud of the work you've done, not me just because I'm your mom." Reinforcement is a good system for change, but there are others. There's another one called overcorrection, which is basically where you ask your child to repeat what they did in an inappropriate way, but to correct it. So, if your child slammed a door in anger, instead of running after them and saying: "We don't slam doors here," you go to their room and say: "Please can you come out and close the door properly?" You use a conversational tone, and when they've done what you asked you thank them. That's why how we behave as parents is so important. Children learn by watching, so we need to give them visual material and information via TV series, Internet content and our own behavior that they can copy. Learning by observation is a technique that children use from when they are little, and if there is no other option, I prefer to use the word "consequence" rather than "punishment". Children have to learn that the decisions they make have consequences, so, for example, if they don't study in the afternoons, they can't use their cell phones, because they can't use the time they've spent not studying to use technology.

Sports and health psychologist with a master's degree in clinical and health psychology. Author of books as "Cuenta contigo" (count on yourself), "Por qué ellos sueñan con ser futbolistas y ellas princesas" (why boys dream of being footballers and girls princesses) and "Si salieras a vivir…" i(If you left to live), she has worked with football teams such as Betis, Majorca or Granada, as well as with other elite athletes. Ms. Ramirez is one of the most influential psychologists on social networks in Spain.