Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The 6 Do's and Don'ts of Parenting and Sports

By: Dyan Eybergen

"It doesn't matter whether you win or lose, as long as you are having fun". We have all heard that one before and for most of us we have probably said it once or twice to our own children; but do we really mean it? Especially in the arena of competitive sports are parents really practicing what they preach?

Here are 6 DO'S and DON'TS for being a good Sports Parent.

DON'T over-identify with your child. You naturally identify with your child, of course, but over-identification may lead you to ignoring your child’s wishes for how and why he/she is playing a sport and focusing instead on your own desires. It is normal as a parent to dream of your child’s future and who doesn't want the next Wayne Gretzky or Clara Hughes as a son or daughter? However, when the parent's dreams of what they want for their child in sport get projected on to their child the reasons why the child is playing a particular sport loses its meaning. Then it really isn't fun whether they are winning or losing.

DO allow your child to fail. The most successful people in and out of sports do two things that inevitably secure their happiness: First, they are more willing to take risks and therefore fail more frequently. Second, they use their failures in a positive way as a source of motivation and feedback to improve.

DON'T compete with other parents. Its tempting to get caught up in trying to keep up with the Jonse's; even in sport. Comparing your child's success, or lack thereof, to an other's, puts undue pressure on children. Refrain from those conversations with other parents that compare your children and stack them up against each other. We want our children to do well on their own merits, not in light of another child doing better or failing in comparison.

DO teach sportsmanlike conduct. Encourage your children to root for one another. The true definition of competition is a seeking together where your opponent is someone to revere, not hate! The better your child's opponent performs, the more chance your child has of having a peak performance.Teach your children to rise to the occasion of competition and strive to be the best they can be and learn from those who are better.

DON'T undermine the Coach. If you are on the sidelines shouting out instructions to your child that differs from what the coach is saying, your child may be more inclined to obey you the parent. The consequences of this from the coach's perspective might not bode well for your child. Even if you don't agree, the parent who remains calm and thoughtful in game situations models respect for the game, coaching and officials.

DO compliment the officials and coaches: Parents who resist the urge to criticize a bad call, who can even compliment the officials/coaches for their hard work after a game (especially if their child’s team loses), teach that playing organized sports comes with having to deal with winning and losing and that in life, things will not always go the way we want them to no matter how hard we try. Winning in sports is about doing the best you can do, separate from the outcome or the play of your opponent.

As a parent of a child playing sports, do your job of supporting and encouraging your child and let the coach do his/her job. Not everyone has an “ideal” coach or team situation. If you have concerns, make sure they are discussed with the intent of helping to find a solution and improve the situation. If difficulties remain, help your child use the situation as a growth experience. If the problems are serious (harassment, abuse, etc.), report them to the sport’s governing body or appropriate authority and remove your child from the program



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