Anyone who has a child involved in organized sports will likely encounter one eventually; the bad sports parent. The parent that is the one that drives all of the others crazy. The one who screeches at the coaches, is unpleasant about other kids involved in the team/meet/class, the one who seems way too harsh on their own kid when they make a mistake or have a ‘bad day’.
These people are fortunately in the minority and most of the other ‘sports parents’ you might encounter just want the same thing as you; for their child to have fun doing something they enjoy. But displaying poor sportsmanship and other traits of a budding bad sports parent is easier to slip into than you might think. And as kids inevitably look to their parents for cues on how to behave doing so can be harmful to everyone. Here are some tips to help you avoid unwittingly falling into these traps.
– When you are watching your child practice, or compete in a meet, you need to remember at all times that you’re the parent, not the coach. Offer words of encouragement, not directions, from the sidelines – there is a difference – and leave the actual coaching to the people who ARE there to do it.
– Strive to keep any comments about practices and meets positive. Make a point of never criticizing coaches or judges in public. If you do have a concern it can and should be addressed, just do it privately and in a calm and rational manner.
– After a competitive event it is essential that you don’t dwell on who won and lost or how many points your child did or did not get. Instead, take a few minutes afterwards to ask your child about how they feel. If they feel they failed in a particular way – missed a move, forgot part of a routine – suggest they discuss it with their coach rather than hashing it over right there. And if their reactions are very negative this is a good time to discuss good sportsmanship.
– Applaud and acknowledge good performances, no matter who turns them in, by doing so you are once again setting a good example for your child
– Continue to reinforce good sportsmanship by remaining courteous and pleasant toward the parents of other kids who may be competing against your child, and offer congratulations if it is their child that wins.
– When you notice examples of good sportsmanship in professional athletes – even those not involved in your child’s sport – point them out to your kid as an example. And if a bad one crops up – and they do, in all sports, at least occasionally – that can be a talking point too.
– Finally, don’t forget to always encourage your child to have fun and allow yourself to have fun too. Even if your child isn’t the big star, enjoy the ride – and the meet – through their eager eyes. And keep in mind that no matter how they perform they are gaining positive things that will stay with them for life; making new friends, learning about teamwork, gaining confidence and overcoming fears and much more. In the end, your child’s participation in sports should be a fun, positive time that creates memories they’ll cherish, and the way you behave can certainly help ensure it is.
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