The Top 5 Ways Sports Parents Ruin Sports for Kids
While most sports parents do a terrific job helping their kids have a fun and meaningful youth sport experience, there are still those stories about “the crazy parent” that steal from an otherwise good time. Screaming obscenities, harassing officials, and engaging in physical aggression are just a few of the ugly incidents reported over the years at youth sporting events, making it very important that we bring our A-game every time we watch our kids play. At my office there are a number of common parent problems I see that I have included in the list below.
The Top 5 Ways Parents Ruin Sports for their Kids
- Make sport decisions without talking to their child. Rather than talking to their kids about sport participation, these parents sign their kids up for leagues without gauging interest first. Instead, talk regularly about what sport types and intensity levels are best for your child as you work through sport decisions.
- Call “politics” at every turn. Just because your child isn’t starting doesn’t mean “politics” are at play. Granted, coaches don’t always get it right, but when mistakes are made try and consider potential talent differences before assuming your child isn’t being treated fairly.
- Constantly criticize their child (and rarely offer positive reinforcement). Constantly nagging and pointing out your child’s shortcomings will, over time, drive your child out of sports. A better approach is to balance constructive feedback with hearty praise and positive reinforcement to help improve focus, motivation, and commitment.
- Tell the coach how to coach. Another way in which parents can negatively impact youth sports is trying to “coach the coach.” While there may be opportunities to offer the coach feedback, it’s better to allow him or her to run the team as they see fit.
- Embarrass and humiliate kids from the stands. One way to quickly run your child out of youth sports is to make rude comments and gestures from the stands (or worse yet, act out physically). Cheer and support as much as you can, and if you feel you can’t control your emotions take the steps necessary to distance yourself from the action.
While it’s understandable that parents become emotional at youth sport events, it’s not OK to ruin the experience for kids. If you see yourself in some of the parent problems listed above, take the steps necessary to improve upon the situation (which may include talking to a professional mental health clinician). Youth sports can be one of the most enjoyable and enriching experiences for kids, but it can also turn into a nightmare when adults fail to create and support a safe and fun environment.