Parents of Young Athletes

One of the greatest joys a parent can experience is watching their child have a wonderful time playing sports.  We want them to do well and and we love to see the joy of success in their faces.  However, success should not be measured on the scoreboard.  No matter how great your child is in a sport, it is very likely there are other players who are better.   Success does not come when parents set their expectations and their vision of success on the child’s shoulders.  Here are some Do’s and Don’ts about parenting young athletes.

The DO’S

  • Teach your child to respect their coach.  Your child learns from you, so you need to respect the coach as well.  Never under mind their decisions to your children.  Your child’s success is in their coaches interest, so trust them to do the coaching.
  • Be supportive, light and playful, understanding and kind.  Accept your child’s learning process and their physical abilities.  Enjoy your child’s participation and celebrate the successes and the failures.  Just let them play!
  • Let your child to be interested and play whatever sport he or she chooses.  Just because you were a great soccer player, doesn’t mean your child will have the passion you have.  Provide your child with the opportunity of many choices and support their choice even if it is not yours.  Support your child’s choice to play NO sport if that is what they most comfortable with.  Who knows, they could be a master violin player.
  • Be willing to let your child make mistakes and learn from them.  A good coach would much rather see a player not afraid to take a chance and fail then do nothing and be worried they are going to get yelled at for making a mistake.  When your child makes a mistake, ask ask them open ended questions that will get them to talk about it and learn from it.  Never criticize or blame, but rather ask what did they learn?

The DON’Ts

  • Never blame the coach, other players, referees or even the field conditions if your child’s team does not win.  Players need to be accountable for their own failures.  The will never learn from their mistakes if they have someone or something else to blame.
  • Don’t put unachievable performance standards on your kids, they will never be able to live up to your expectations. Never put guilt on them for a poor performance, or they will want to quit the sport.  It is not your child’s responsibility to boost your ego.
  • Don’t live your dreams of sports glory through your children.  Just because your coach didn’t put you in the championship game, don’t think that your child is going to make up for all that.  Accept that your child may not excel in the sport you played, but perhaps will find great success in something else.
  • Don’t pressure your kids beyond their capabilities.  Not only are you making is less fun for them, you maybe doing the opposite effect and making is worse by lowering their confidence.  Just let them play and have fun.

Remember when you were a child and would be outside playing sports with your friends.  Organized youth sports should just be an extension of that feeling.  Being with friends, laughing and playing.  Just letting them play is the best thing that we can do for our children.

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