Think you are raising the next LeBron James or Michael Phelps? Probably not, but parents’ behavior can be a reason children stop wanting to play sports. Check out these five ways to be a great sports parent to keep your child happy and playing.
- HEALTHY COMPETITION IS GOOD; SUCCESS IS NOT JUST ABOUT WINNING! Understand that competition is good. Sports is about learning to deal with challenges and obstacles, and without the challenge, where is the fun? However, be sure you are teaching your child that their opponent is not the enemy or someone to be hated and destroyed. Additionally, don’t judge your child just by winning and losing standards. Sports is about doing the best you can do, separate from the play of your opponent. Root for great performances and good plays, not just the winner!
- BE SUPPORTIVE, DON’T COACH! You need to be your child’s best fan … and that’s it! Leave the coaching and instruction up to the coach. You are there to provide encouragement, support, empathy, transportation, fund-raising and everything else!
- HELP MAKE THE SPORT FUN FOR YOUR CHILD. Studies have shown over and over again that the more fun an athlete is having, the more they will learn and perform. When a sport becomes too serious, athletes tend to burn out faster. Even highly competitive programs have room for fun. If your child stops having fun and begins to dread practice, find out what is going on. Is it the coaching, the pressure, teammates, could it be you?
- AVOID COMPARISONS! Supportive parents do not use other athletes, especially those who their child competes with or against, to compare and evaluate their child’s progress. Every child matures differently and the process of comparing can be inaccurate and hurtful. Comparisons are useful only in a teaching manner, like showing proper technique.
- WHOSE GOAL IS IT? Why is your child participating in the sport? Are they doing it because they want to - for themselves – or because of you? Many times a young athlete is afraid they are going to disappoint a parent who is impassioned by the sport. Make sure their goals and aspirations are THEIRS, not your dreams for them.