5 Positive Tips for Parenting Student Athletes

Practice good parenting with young athletes

We’ve all seen, and maybe been, those enthusiastic parents shouting, criticizing, encouraging, berating, and coaching from the the stands. This behavior can embarrass and humiliate the student athlete, undermine their performance, and even push them from a sport they may love, or worse, from the family.

When a parent tries to relive past glories through their child, they rob the child of their own achievements and identity. And, they apply pressures that can cause serious damage to the child’s emotional development.

Being a positive parent to a student athlete is not hard, and it generally results in a stronger athlete, and more fun for the parent. Here’s a list of simple, yet powerful ways to help your kids achieve their potential at home and on the courts and fields.

1. Let Your Kids Choose

When your child comes home eager to try out for Little League, soccer, tennis, or just about any sport, encourage them by teaching them safety first. Don’t try to push your child to follow in your footsteps, it can push them the wrong way. Introduce them to opportunities, offer advice, and support the choices they make, even if it isn’t your choice, or when their choice is NO sport. Not all kids are meant to be on a field. They’ll compete in other ways.

2. Be a Good Sport Role Model

Children watch, listen, and learn. They exhibit what they see and hear, good or bad. It is our job as parents, coaches, trainers, and referees to teach and model good sportsmanship and good behavior. Through positive role modeling of good sportsmanship and appropriate sports behavior, we can make good sportsmanship and good parental behaviors contagious.

3. Keep it Positive

Being there, whoops, cheers, whistles let your child, whatever their age, know you’re proud of them. No heckling coaches, umpires, and especially players. Abusive language and negative taunts should not be tolerated. Period. When your child makes a mistake, help them learn from it and figure out what they could have done differently. Cheer for the whole team. Let all the players know that their effort is appreciated. Leave it to the coaches to coach.

4. Support the Coach

If you show respect to the coach, so will your child. It is vital to your child’s progress and performance that he or she listen to and trust their coach’s advice and instructions. Practice throwing, batting, serving, whatever you can help with. If you played the sport, volunteer to help with practices. Bring any issues to the coach’s attentions and allow the coach to resolve it directly. Whether you’re a sport or non-sport parent, you can fully participate and support your child by attending parent meetings; learning the game rules; and being on time for practices, games, and pick-ups.

5. Show That You Can Be Open

Show your kids, through your actions, that it’s okay to make mistakes, change your mind, and even be wrong. Be willing to be wrong and move off your position. Listen to the all sides of a situation or issue and let go of the need to be right or in control.

Remember how you felt when you were in youth sports. Remember how your parents were, or how you wanted them to be with you. Most children play sports because it’s fun and they’re naturally competitive. When sports become forced and negative, they lose interest and the joy, not just in the sport, but often in growing up. Taking life a little less serious helps all of us to enjoy athletic competition.

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