If you are a beginning sports parent–your child is small and just starting out–I have a question for you. What kind of sports parent do you want to be if your kids are still playing when they get to high school or college?
When you have a chance to watch sports events of older kids and you look around at the parents, what kind of sports parenting do you see?
Positive, enthusiastic spectators?
Pacing, agitated sideliners?
Parents clumped in sympathy groups, discussing coaches’ and players’ mistakes?
Parents yelling and coaching their kids from the bleachers or sidelines?
Parents who complain loudly to the coaches, refs, player, or each other?
My guess is that you see all of the above. The questions is: which one do you want to be after your child has been playing sports for a few years? This is a choice you should make before your child ever dons a uniform.
I’ll never end up like that
When the kids are little, playing soccer and t-ball and looking very cute in their uniforms, most parents take it all in stride. After all, these are just little tikes and their gamesare really just entertaining social events. Young parents may look at veteran parents who’ve developed some bad habits and think, I’ll never end up like that.
Beware of the slippery slope
As your child continues to play sports, you will not suddenly wake up one morning and be one of the above mentioned sports parenting types. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly, over the years. It happens one choice at a time.
- When your young child is sitting the bench more than you think he should, will you chew the coach out or confront calmly with a question like “is there anything that Johnny can do to improve his game?” You have a choice.
- When the coach calls a play that doesn’t seem too smart, will you smirk to other parents about his incompentency or will you keep your mouth shut and be grateful that he’s giving up his time to coach your child? You have a choice.
- When your kid comes home crying that she didn’t score because little Jennifer hogged the ball, will you echo her rants or will you listen to her frustration and try to help her understand how she can be a team player regardless? You have a choice.
And each choice you made will either bring you closer to becoming a strong, supportive sports parent, or it will cause you to slide down a little further on the slippery slope towards being the parent you really didn’t want to become when you started your child out in sports.
Sports parents, if you have small kids, it has to start with you NOW. While the score is still rather meaningless, while there is no pressure on your child to perform, and while your job as a parent is as easy as bringing snacks to the game. Better yet, make this choice before you even sign your child up to play.
Decide today what kid of sports parent you desire to be for your children. Picture yourself in 10 years–your attitude towards the coach, your demeanor during the game, your comments to your kid after the game, your ambition for your child–and determine what you want to end up like as a sports parent.
And while you’re looking down the roadthink about the type of character you would like to see your athlete develop. Strangely enough, good sports parenting and athletes with good character go hand in hand.
And then, start choosing now in that direction. Don’t just let it happen of its own accord, because if you don’t make choices that will help you be a positive, supportive parent, you might end up being one of those obnoxious, pushy parents that you always swore you’d never be.
What kind of sports parent do you want to be when you grow up? What kind of sports parent are you now?
I’d love to hear your comments.
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