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Monday, September 23, 2019

Tips for Being a Great, Supportive Sports Parent

I love being a parent for many reasons; one of which is the opportunity to experience so much through our children's eyes. As parents we are fortunate enough to share so much with our little ones. We watch them learn new things, explore the world, and overcome the obstacles that are put in their path. One of the many things we get to experience together with our children is sports. Whether it is baseball, softball, soccer, or figure skating, each sport offers our children - and us - the opportunity to grow and learn much more than the technical skills required to excel. Sports are a wonderful way for children to gain confidence, learn the importance of dedication and hard work, and how to work well with their peers in a respectful way.

As a parent, of course we want to see our children excel in whatever they are interested in. But there is a fine line between passionately encouraging and bullying. It is important for us to model good sportsmanship, even when we're not the ones on the field. Our athletes also look to us as a barometer of importance and to learn how they should react in a given situation on or off of the field. Take your opportunity as the parent of an athlete to show them what it means to be a team player and encourage them to work toward their goals in a healthy way. Here are some of my tips for being a supportive parent to your young athlete this season.

Avoid bad-mouthing

Our children are watching us for their behavioral queues. Whether they are right next to us or on the field, they see how we treat those around us at their practices and games. Treat all coaches, referees, other parents, and opponents with respect and courtesy.

Focus on the effort rather than the win

Win or lose, it is important to praise the efforts of your athlete when they have given their all. That is not to say that empty praise should be doled out, but that recognizing an athlete who continued to show up throughout the game with focus and skill helps them to recognize that regardless of the outcome, their best efforts matter.

Respect the authority of those running the practice or game

Along with treating others with respect, we also need to support our coaches and referees. They work hard to facilitate a healthy and fair game for our athletes and many of them are as invested in their success as you are. Even if you don't agree with a call, it is important to maintain perspective and respect for those running the game.

Respect your child's shifts in interest

We know that it is important for our athletes to honor the commitments they have made to their teammates and coaches by signing up for a sports team. If at the end of a season, your athlete decides that they do not want to continue to play on a team, respect their shift in interest and allow them to try a different activity.

Create a healthy balance of school, fun, family, and sports

Sports practices, games, workshops, and camps can take up a considerable amount of time in your athlete's schedule. Make sure that there is a healthy balance between school, home, and their sports team. Doing so may stave off burn out and allow your athlete to recognize that their identity does not lay within their sport.

Challenge your athlete

Keep your athlete engaged and challenged by encouraging them to explore their range of ability. This might mean taking on a different position within the team or switching teams to benefit from opportunities for advancement within their sport. Moves like that can be daunting, but worth the time, effort, and sacrifice in the end.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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