Five signs of a sports parent you don’t want to become:
Overemphasizing sports at the expense of sportsmanship: The best athletes keep their emotions in check and perform at an even keel, win or lose. Parents demonstrative in showing displeasure during a contest are sending the wrong message. Encouragement is crucial — especially when things aren’t going well on the field.
Having different goals than your child: Parents take the time to write down a list of what you want for your child during their sport season. Your son or daughter can do the same. Vastly different lists are a red flag. Kids generally want to have fun, enjoy time with their friends, improve their skills and win. Parents who write down “getting a scholarship” or “making the All-Star team” probably need to adjust their goals. My experience is that the parents believe their kids’ role on the team is larger than what the athlete knows it to be. I have always said that a kid knows why they are not playing and can accept it when they know they are doing their best, it is the parents who can’t accept it.
Treating your child differently after a loss than a win: All parents love their children the same regardless of the outcome of a game. Yet often their behavior conveys something else. It is not intentional and most of the time the parent doesn’t even realize it because they have such an unrealistic expectation from the beginning. “Many young athletes indicate that conversations with their parents after a game somehow make them feel as if their value as a person was tied to playing time or winning,” Brown says.
Undermining the coach: Young athletes need a single instructional voice during games. That voice has to be the coach. Kids who listen to their parents yelling instruction from the stands or even glancing at their parents for approval from the field are distracted and can’t perform at a peak level. It would be like a parent who teaches for a living going to class with their kid because they know the learning style of their kid better than the teacher. Even if that is the case, having the child hearing two voices in the learning process no matter how well intended, it is, will only serve as a distraction. Second-guessing the coach on the ride home is just as insidious.
Living your own athletic dream through your child: A sure sign is the parent taking credit when the child has done well. Sometimes this is subtle like posting your child’s statistics or video to show how well they are doing. This may not be what the parent is doing consciously, but subconsciously what else could it be. I invite parents to explore what would be the motive for this? “We worked on that shot for weeks in the driveway,” or “You did it just like I showed you” Another symptom is when the outcome of a game means more to a parent than to the child. If you as a parent are still depressed by a loss when the child is already off playing with friends, remind yourself that it’s not your career and you have zero control over the outcome.
Five signs of an ideal sports parent: It’s easier to be an ideal sports parent than a nightmare. It takes less effort. Sit back and enjoy”. Here’s what to do:
Cheer everybody on the team, not just your child: Parents should attend as many games as possible and be supportive, yet allow young athletes to find their own solutions. Don’t feel the need to come to their rescue at every crisis. Continue to make positive comments even when the team is struggling.
Model appropriate behavior: Contrary to the old saying, children do as you do, not as you say. When a parent project poise, control and confidence, the young athlete is likely to do the same. And when a parent doesn’t dwell on a tough loss, the young athlete will be enormously appreciative.
Know what is suitable to discuss with the coach: The mental and physical treatment of your child is absolutely appropriate. So is seeking advice on ways to help your child improve. And if you are concerned about your child’s behavior in the team setting, bring that up with the coach. Taboo topics: Playing time, team strategy, and discussing team members other than your child. These are all red flags.
Know your role: Everyone at a game is either a player, a coach, an official or a spectator. “It’s wise to choose only one of those roles at a time. Some adults have the false impression that by being in a crowd, they become anonymous. People behaving poorly cannot hide. Here’s a clue: If your child seems embarrassed by you, clean up your act.
Be a good listener and a great encourager: When your child is ready to talk about a game or has a question about the sport, be all ears. Then provide answers while being mindful of avoiding becoming a nightmare sports parent. Above all, be positive. Be your child’s biggest fan. Good athletes learn better when they seek their own answers.
And, of course, don’t be sparing with those magic words: “I love watching you play.