Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Six Harmful Behaviors that Youth Sports Parents Should Avoid

Most parents naturally do a great job shepherding their child through youth sports. But there are many temptations that parents face that can derail their child’s success in sports.

One trap that can snare unsuspecting parents is living vicariously through their child’s sports experiences—and basing their own sense of worth on their child’s successes or failures. This leads to dysfunctional behavior for both parents and their children. To achieve success, parents may place an emphasis on the sport that far exceeds the natural interest of the child. The child, in turn, develops a distorted perspective of sports, and may improperly relate success in sports to his or her parent’s love.

Parents also too often see sports as a vehicle to reach some external reward such as a college scholarship. Despite strong statistics to the contrary, parents readily believe that their young sports star is on the fast track to a scholarship. Too much emphasis is again placed on sports with the resulting cascade of behaviors that lead to the child eventually quitting sports.

Here are six potentially harmful parental behaviors that youth sports parents should avoid:

  • Defining success only as winning (win/no-win). Conveying a “Winners win and Losers lose” value may destroy the intrinsic rewards that help drive your child’s long-term participation in sports.

  • Beyond introducing your child to a sport, forcing participation. The goal is for your child to find his or her passion—not yours. This may take a child in a direction away from sports and your expectations.

  • Viewing sports as a waste of time with no practical real-world value (and discouraging your child’s participation). Similar to the above item, a parent’s attitudes may neglect the child’s true nature.

  • Becoming too involved in your child’s sports experience. Whatever the motivation (caring, vicarious enjoyment, parental status, etc.), over-involvement can diminish or ruin your child’s independent enjoyment of his or her sport.

  • Continually blaming others for your child’s disappointments and setbacks. Attributing every negative situation to poor coaching or officiating promotes a destructive “victim” mentality in your child.

  • Coaching your child from the sidelines. Constant interaction with your child during a game can diminish a child’s confidence and self-reliance.

Copyright © 2012 Jeffrey S. Rhoads. All Rights Reserved

The Joy of Youth Sports
If you enjoyed this article, you may like my book:
The Joy of Youth Sports: Creating the best youth sports experience for your child (Amazon $8.95)

(Kindle Edition $2.99)

Copyright 2009-2012 Jeffrey S. Rhoads; All Rights Reserved


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