Top 10 Parenting Do's
- Reinforce with your child to be a good sport. For example emphasize shaking hands after games no matter how bitter the contest, and never belittling someone to make yourself feel better.
- Limit your conversations about sport. Let them know you are interested, but also interested in all aspects of their lives!
- Have realistic expectations for your child’s success in sport. Try to be objective when your child is not receiving playing time or starting; or they struggle with their performances. They are not mini-adults; they are maturing young people who make many mistakes as well as doing many great things (sometimes in the same day!).
- Support the coach and don’t try to coach your child! Especially from the stands during a game. Coaching your child, unless you are a part of the coaching staff, makes it very easy to confuse and frustrate the child. It can undermine the coach and destroy coach-athlete trust.
- Keep it fun. Try not to take sport too seriously. You will ruin it for your child and they will feel pressure if you are too critical, controlling, or overbearing. Keep it light!
- Push to follow through on commitments, work hard, and be a good person. This is the time to challenge your child – when they want to take a short cut that does not show commitment to the team or the coach. Pushing, however, to win is not healthy and will only create issues between you and your child.
- Have them play for their reasons, not yours. Keep in mind that your child wants to be independent from you in some ways, and yet have your support. For certain, in sport let their goals drive the level of involvement. This will lead to less frustration and arguments.
- Remain calm and composed during games. Avoid yelling at officials. High school athletes find it very frustrating and embarrassing when parents yell at officials, or lose their composure in the stands. There is enough pressure on these kids to perform as it is. Your added pressure from reacting to mistakes they make, being critical and negative, and just too emotional create unneeded stress and take away from the fun of the game.
- Support, support, support! Support your child in many different ways. Listen to them when they need to be heard after a tough game or practice. Challenge them when they are exhibiting a bad attitude. Confirm what they are going through is normal in sport. Be empathetic. Never make them feel guilty about “your sacrifices” for them to play. There are some many more ways to support than just paying for them to play, transporting them, or giving them tactical advice.
- Make your love and support unconditional and never contingent on performance. The biggest issues between parents and their children often come when the parent makes the child feel like their encouragement and love is contingent on their performances. No matter how your son or daughter plays be encouraging, give them a hug, let them know you love them even if they go 0 for 5, have five big turnovers, or take bad penalties. The coach will get on them about their execution; the parent needs to play his or her role and support.