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How to be a Good Sports Parent in 2020

How to be a Good Sports Parent in 2020

When it comes to being a good sports parent the old adage rings true: actions speak louder than words.

Before we discuss what, actions parents can take to create a positive sports environment for their children, let’s get a clear understanding about what it means to be a good sports parent.

Firstly, when we say “sports parent” we simply mean a caregiver who has a child that plays sports. Good sports parents are those that are supportive of everyone involved in their child’s sport. This means being supportive of your child, their peers, coaching staff, and the judges and officials.

Now, let’s dive into some of the most important practices that makes a good sports parent.

Good sports parents separate identity from sport

Every parent wants the best for their child, so it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of youth sports. Competitive parents, and those parents who were athletes themselves, may even feel a rush of adrenaline when their child performs well.

For many parents, watching their kids in sports gives them their first glance of their child’s independence. So, it’s no wonder some of us get a little emotional.

However, when this rush of emotion subsides, it’s good to remember that your child’s athletic performance is not a reflection of your parenting. Good sports parents make sure that their identity remains separate from their child’s athletic performance. Many would even argue that it’s important that your child’s identity doesn’t get wrapped up in their athletic performance. Your child needs to know that their self-worth shouldn’t be reliant on sports.

Kids playing sports are naturally going to have opinions about how well they played. And it’s good to listen to those opinions if your child wants to share.

However, if your child begins to communicate negative opinions about him or herself because of their performance, it may be time to take a step back. This doesn’t mean quitting sports. It can simply mean encouraging diversified play and interests in activities outside of sport. Having a conversation about self-esteem and self-worth is important as well.

Kids playing sports should focus on the moment

For kids, the future seems like it’s miles away. And when it comes to kids playing sports, the future may be best kept at that distance. As we mentioned in our recent coaching tips article, the best coaches tend to simplify things and ground their athletes in the moment. This not only helps their performance, but from a parenting perspective, it also takes unnecessary stress out of the game.

As kids grow older, sports scholarships can become a focus. But try to keep things balanced. After all, a sports scholarship likely isn’t the reason your child first showed interest in play. In fact, good sports parents may find it useful to disregard talks about their child’s future in sports altogether. Instead of talking about the future, emphasize the enjoyment of the sport itself. Ask them what movements or actions they love best about their sport. Getting children to think about individual moments is a great way to reduce stress and redirect their focus back to the sport they love.

Being a good sports parent means cheering for everyone!

Competitive parents and youth sports don’t always mix well. Even if you’re doing a great job supporting your child, there may be some parents creating a tough sports environment. Loud and competitive sports parents can put a damper on kids sports.

To counteract this sort of behaviour, consider making an honest effort to cheer on your child’s teammates and even allow yourself to compliment the competition.

When you respond to an impressive performance honestly, other parents may be subtly reminded that impressive feats transcend team colours. Positive sports parenting actions like these can help fend off any negative emotions stirred up during competition.

Don’t forget the coaches, judges, conveners or volunteers who are spending time and putting in effort to make youth sports available to your child and their peers. If you find it difficult to cheer for, or compliment the other team, focus on the sport! Consider saying “good game” or “that was a great competition” to help re-frame a tough situation. When emotions are running high, it can take a while to cool off. But that doesn’t mean the situation can’t be re-framed.

A tough loss comes from tough competition, that’s a fact! And of course, often times tough competition allows for great learning opportunities for kids.

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