Many young people get excited about the beginning of the sports season.
Youth sports can be a wonderful thing. Learning how to take instruction, be a team player, build basic motor skills, win and lose with grace and have fun in the process are a valuable part of a child’s growth and development.
Any participant in youth sports, however, also knows there is a downside — and most of the time it isn’t the teammates – it’s “that parent.”
You know the one. The overzealous parent who believes his or her child is on the way to stardom; the parent who is living his or her dream vicariously through the child; and the parent who believes he or she is a much better coach or referee than the current ones. There are also the parents who believe that the child’s performance on the field is a direct reflection of themselves.
In order to help keep things in perspective, many teams have parents sign behavior contracts which specifically define bad parental form and the consequences for such actions. One park in Buffalo Grove, Illinois tried to instill a bit of humor about the situation by posting “appropriate adult behavior” signs throughout the park.
The signs reminded all that:
- This is a game being played by children.
- Winning or losing every game of the season will not impact which college they attend or their future income potential.
- Referees, umpires and officials are human and make mistakes, just like everyone else. No one shouts at you in front of other people when you make a mistake, so please don’t yell at them. We do not have video replay, so we will go with their calls.
- It is highly unlikely that college recruiters or professional scouts are watching these games, so let’s keep it all about having fun and being pressure-free.
There are approximately 17,000 professional athletes in the United States. With the current population around 300 million, each child has a 0.00565 percent chance of becoming a professional athlete. So instead of heaping on the pressure, let children enjoy the experience regardless of how well they actually play the game.
As adults, every parent present at a sports game is modeling something for the children. Here are a few things to remember as you head out to the field:
- Be a great role model. Model good sportsmanship. Avoid being negative. Never berate children or coaches for a mistake made on the field. It is humiliating and embarrassing for everyone.
- Avoid coaching from the sidelines. Most of the coaches are doing their best.
- Know your child’s goals. Too many parents bring their own goals versus their child’s goals to the game.
- The goal is to have fun. Teach children how to be a good winner and a good loser. It will serve them well throughout life.
- Avoid player-bashing and being critical. Would you want someone trashing your child?
- Learn the difference between confidence and arrogance. Confidence in action is a beautiful thing to watch. Arrogance can rip a team apart or keep them from coming together in the first place.
Positive parental attitudes and actions can help children take away powerful life experiences and lessons from the field that will help them be stronger and more confident people.
Image from Unsplash.com