When it comes to our kid’s sports we are the taxi drivers to and from training and games, we become the kit manager, the fundraiser, sometimes even the coach. We are definitely the sponsors (apparel and equipment is not cheap you know) and of course we are by default, the #1 supporter. These are some of the responsibilities that we have in our role as a “sports” parent, but it doesn’t stop here.
Because as parents we are the most influential adult figure in our child’s life, we will define and shape the person that our child will become. Outstanding parents are outstanding teachers. We should never underestimate the power of your child’s greatest teacher – you and the role in which you play in your child’s sports experience.
So what is the role of a “sports” parent?
The job description of a good “sports” parent is to provide a safe and loving environment. An environment that will allow your child to connect with their surroundings, inspire them through learning and empower them to be the best they can be, in the sport they choose to play.
How can I achieve this?
Here are our seven tips on how parents can help shape a positive sporting environment and create favourable sporting experiences for their kids:
- Provide Unconditional Love
Regardless of ability, outcome or performance, just be there for your child. Be there to support, be the shoulder to cry on, be the listener, be mum and dad when things go well and when they don’t. Be the one to say “it’s ok” or “I love watching you play”.
- Be Calm
At training and games be the “calm one”. This emotion will transfer across to your child. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child will feel. A calm child is a happy child and a happy child can focus on the job in hand – enjoying the game.
- Support Your Coach
Coaches have 101 things to do and in some cases they are parents, just like us. Coaches crave assistance but rarely ask for it. Ask your coach if you can support them in any way. Can you help with setting up or organising equipment, assisting on game day or even filling up the water bottles?
- Let Kids Play
Emphasize enjoyment over performance. Kids love playing with their mates and learning new skills, they don’t necessarily worry about who is winning the league. “Performance”, that can come later, encourage the kids to enjoy what they are doing now. Are they happy? Are they healthy? Do they have a smile on their face?
- Accept the Loss
We didn’t win today! That’s ok, accept that your child may not win every game they play. Be comfortable with this and understand that valuable life lessons can be learnt by everyone when we don’t “win” on the scoreboard.
- Help Set Growth Goals
Many kids drop out of sport because they cannot meet expectations that are placed on them by parents. Help set simple growth goals like; “I will give 100% in everything I do”, “I will prepare and do a good warm up before each game” or “I will lead from the front and be a great teammate”.
- Be the Model Parent
Make your kids proud – be supportive of everyone on the team and praise the effort of everyone involved. Be the parent who doesn’t instruct your child and undermine your coach, Be the parent who doesn’t scream and shout at the officials, or the parent that knows everything. Don’t be the embarrassing Mum/Dad. Be the supportive one.
Remember you are your child’s greatest teacher. Show them the way and help them reach their full potential in sport so that they can reap the benefits in life.