“Those parents” are probably one of the biggest issues affecting youth sports today. We’ve all seen “those parents” before at practice or the game. They think their child is the greatest youth athlete alive who can do no wrong. And anytime something does go wrong everyone else—the coaches, the other players, the officials—are at fault, but never their child. It’s okay to be proud of your kids (because for the most part that’s all that a young athlete wants), but please don’t let it run away with you!
Here are 3 ways sports parents can make sure they stay objective this season:
1. Remember that your child isn’t perfect…and that’s okay.
While there is nothing wrong with believing your child is special and wonderful and talented and smart, you have to remember that they are just kids. Hardly anyone is spectacular at something the first time they do it, sports included. Do you remember learning how to throw a baseball? Or how about the first time you laced up a pair of skates? Or the first time you tried to shoot a 3-pointer? One of the most important things about youth sports is that it teaches kids the fundamentals of the given sports, and learning means making mistakes and growing from them. If your child misses a pass, drops a fly ball, or doesn’t make the play don’t automatically assign blame on everyone else. Kids are going to make mistakes, even yours, and that’s okay! What’s important is that they learn how to bounce back from a mistake and keep on playing.
And if it really was their teammate’s mistake, young athletes need to learn how to support each other as a team and pick each other up on the field to finish strong. The last thing we can to teach our kids is that it’s okay to pick on or abandon their teammates.
2. Focus on cheering for everyone, not just your child.
One of the best ways a parent can focus on being objective is to try and cheer for every player on the field as if they were your own child. If someone else makes a stellar play give them a shout out! If you weren’t at the game and your son or daughter scored a goal or hit a double wouldn’t you want someone to cheer for them? It’s important to that we teach our kids to support and celebrate their teammate’s individual success, as that helps build the team camaraderie.
Even more individualized sports, like gymnastics or tennis, have some kind of team component to them. The better you are at celebrating everyone’s achievements the easier it is to not becomes “that parent” on the sidelines that is always bragging about how much better their own child is. Trust us, no one likes carpooling with that parent!
3. Let the coach do their job.
At one point or another, almost every sports parent is going to disagree with the coach. Maybe you feel like your son should play shortstop instead of left field. Or you think your daughter deserves more time as a forward than her teammate. And while we all feel this way from time to time it’s imperative that sports parents not start coaching from the sidelines, trying to undermine or pick a fight with the coach. Yes, sometimes parents do need to intervene when the coach is way out of line, but it’s probably safe to say that most of the time coaches are not out “to get” your kid. They are just doing the best job they can. Please don’t make it any harder on them than it already is.