You often write about positive parenting in sports, what exactly is positive parenting in sports?

Positive parenting in sports is a choice parents make that allows their kids’ sports playing days to be about the kids and not about them, the parents. Parents should not relive their playing careers through their kids. This is not an easy choice and requires great patience and perspective, because of the emotional ties with their kids. Parents want them to do so well and that is natural and OK. However, it is very difficult to see them struggle, so it is easy to become overbearing with advice, expectation and criticism.

Does this mean parents should just sit back and do nothing? Of course not, but parents are there to help kids deal with the physical, mental, and emotional issues that occur in youth sports, without forcing them to play and into decisions that they do not have any input. Does this mean parents should always be happy watching and evaluating their kids’ play? No, but it requires parental understanding that sports are just one part of a child’s life, and that part should not completely define them. 

Positive parenting in sports includes:

1.      Objective evaluation of player’s effort, their results – when the preparation and effort is given, parents must learn to accept the results. When the effort is not there, parents should point that out in a compassionate manner, without false praise.

2.      Realistic expectations of young athletes’ potential – unrealistic expectations are often the beginning of negative parenting. Sustained success comes for very few athletes and parents should go into youth sports with that understanding.

3.      Knowledge of how to say things in ways that do not incite players and that do not attack them as people.

4.      Understanding of when to talk to their kids about their performances – at times when kids do not feel bad already is best.

5.      Remaining positive through thick and thin – the understanding that pushing kids and teaching with negativity does not work over the long haul is crucial to positive parenting in sports.

6.      Never forgetting the F-word – fun is the key to youth sports; and that does not mean just saying, “have fun” every time kids seem upset. Keeping fun in the game, while teaching with challenge, is an art that good coaches and parents have. Finding those good coaches for young players should be the goal of parents.

Once again, positive parenting in sports is a choice that parents make and must practice, knowing it is not an easy choice or practice.


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