|Parents are Part of the Team
YSC's Director of Sport Psychology, Dr. Cristina Fink provides guidance on positive sports parenting and how parents can play a supportive role in youth athletics.
Parents make an enormous effort so that their children can participate in sports. They drive them to and from practice and games, help them prepare their equipment, sacrifice their time and put the sport above other family activities. Undoubtedly, without the parents’ effort, most children would not be able to participate with the same dedication required by many sports. We should recognize and applaud the effort and dedication of all parents. This effort, however, is not enough to obtain the maximum benefit of any sport. Parents need to realize that how they handle the day-to-day athletic experiences of their child will have a profound impact on their development (both on and off the field of play).
Below are some of the general health benefits gained from participating in sports:
- Participation in sports contributes to the physical development of children with the long-term benefit of becoming healthier adults.
- Children who acquire the habit of frequent exercise rarely turn into sedentary adults.
- Participation in athletics encourages children to develop healthy habits such as good nutrition and personal hygiene.
- It’s a great way to have fun, keep busy in your spare time and build positive relationships with other children in sports.
By participating in sports, children have a better chance to develop and mature a variety of psychological tools, such as; concentration, self-control, self-confidence, self-esteem, and a positive self-image. These tools are in their developmental stages in young children and adolescents. For example, many children have a hard time concentrating in school while others have a hard time controlling their emotions and behavior. Children who participate in sports with good coaches and with positive support from their parents will develop these benefits. Participation in sports helps to develop personal values and life-skills that will form an integral part of an athlete’s character, enabling them to face life’s many challenges. The following is a list of some of the life-skills that can be gained from participation in sports:
- To become an honest and responsible person who respects the rules and is guided by a code of ethics
- To be respectful of others, be they teammates, rivals, superiors, judges or others whose objectives may not be the same as theirs
- To be tolerant, faithful, kind, and generous
- To learn how to work as a team and to help those that need it
- To be able to assume personal responsibility and to carry out commitments required by others or themselves
- To persevere, to demand the best from themselves while at the same time being able to accept their weaknesses, but never giving up, with the goal of constantly striving for improvement
- To be a good winner as well as a good loser, learning the most from both experiences
- To value the fact that the reward may come in the future, and that working hard will show on game day
Parents Attendance at Sporting Events:
Parents sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable watching their child participate in sports. This is normal, because what happens during the game affects both parents and the child. It is difficult to watch your child struggle. Parents need to make an effort to enjoy watching their child compete. Concentrate on how fortunate you are to have a healthy child who is participating in sports, which in the long run, will enrich their lives. Try to be positive, don’t let the score or frustration or mistakes negatively influence your behavior.
A parents’ poor behavior during their child’s athletic event can impact their child’s performance and overall development, as well to negatively impact the team’s reputation and image. Most children underperform during a game when they receive instructions from their parents, hear unwarranted criticism, see gestures of disapproval, or genuinely feel embarrassed by their parent’s poor behavior. Parents who criticize, ridicule, or insult the referee or the rival team set a poor example for their children.
Your child’s performance will be maximized if you conduct yourself in a proper manner. Remember, the team and the coach, they are in the limelight. Enjoy being a spectator without interfering in the game. Always be a good role model by respecting the referees even if you disagree with their calls. The players, coaches and fans of the other team also deserve the same respect as your own coach and team. Respect must always be evident even in the most difficult situations. Don’t be provoked by the disrespectful actions of others. If the parents of the opposing team are not practicing good sportsmanship, don’t follow their example. Don’t allow this precious time in your lives to become a bad experience thus depriving your child of a great experience. Distinguish yourself by your exemplary behavior.
Remember always, you are the most important person in the world in your child’s eyes. Their athletic experience will depend in large part on the life-skills you help to develop, role model, and champion. Help them to grow as individuals of strong character and integrity, and always passionate about improving themselves.