For 21 years, I watched my three kids play sports and for 31 years I sat —and still am sitting— in the stands while my husband coached. I’ve seen my fair share of crazy sports parents and I’ve also observed a lot of parenting behaviors that quite honestly are enough to drive young athletes a bit crazy.
I was often guilty of doing some things that annoyed my kids. Perhaps you find yourself doing one or more of these?
1. Pushing. Pushing. Pushing. Are you that parent that is always talking about your child’s sports to them? Do you remind them over and over to practice? Or perhaps you find yourself coaching them at every opportunity, even when they don’t ask for it, even when they don’t want it? It’s one thing to encourage and believe in an athlete; it’s quite another to always be pushing them. Chances are pretty good that if you are constantly pushing them to-wards sports to practice and practice and keep working hard, you could be pushing them away from you.
2. Coach from the sidelines. Some athletes have gotten used to their parents yelling and instructing them from the sidelines, but that does not mean they like it. Imagine if you were cooking dinner and one of your kids came into the room to watch. As they observed, they noticed what you were doing wrong and what you should be doing differently. They basically micromanaged your task.
That’s what it feels like for your kids. Coaching them from the sidelines is micromanaging their performance. Leave the coaching to their coach.
Do your best to just relax and enjoy the game. Your kids don’t need you to coach them while they play and if they say they do, then it’s only because you’ve been doing it for so long that it’s what they are used to.
However, that does not mean they are playing any better. That just means that now they have two coaches to listen to during the game instead of one.
3. Assume the worst. Just because your child is not playing as much as you’d like does not mean they are unhappy. Just because your child made some mistakes does not automatically translate to them losing their starting spot. As parents, it easy for us to default to assuming the worst. I’m not quite sure why we do that; maybe it’s a defense mechanism for feeling so dang helpless.
What if you were to try looking for the positive after every game instead of always looking for the negative and assuming that the worst could happen?
I fell into the trap of negative assumptions way too often and it came out with such phrases as “Aren’t you afraid you’re going to lose your starting spot?” or “Is the coach going to keep you on the bench all season?”
This annoys our kids because they are trying their best and because they really don’t have answers to those questions. Those questions just remind them of how frustrated they are, and they don’t want to keep going over it with Mom and Dad. Or maybe it annoys them because they are content with their situation as it is and don’t want parents to stir things up.
While it’s true that our kids often drive us crazy, let’s not return the favor when it comes to youth sports. That’s a recipe for a very unhappy season and for a damaged parent/child relationship.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.