5 ways parents and coaches drive kids away from hard work

By Janis Meredith | Posted 3/23/2018

Many parents and coaches give kids plenty of reasons to shy away from hard work. Are you guilty of any of these reasons?

1. It's never fun: I fear the pendulum in youth sports has swung from hardcore, disciplined, no-water-allowed to the extreme opposite. We’ve spawned a culture in which everyone always has to have a good time,  and if they don't, they quit. There's a balance to be found, one that applies to real life. Fun and hard work can coexist.

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2. No reward: An adult wouldn't go to work every day if there wasn't a paycheck involved. Rewards and results motivate us to keep working hard. Your child has to see some positive results, whether it’s skill improvement, increased playing time, victories, the joy of working together as a team or even just the enjoyment of playing a game they love.

3. No encouragement: As parents and coaches, it’s important to dole out positive words alongside corrections. Anyone who only hears negative comments about performance when they're working their butt off finds it that much more difficult to work hard. Players instead begin working hard enough to not be criticized.

4. Too easy: Are you fighting all your child’s battles as they play sports? Are you stepping in to pick just the right team, ideal coach or perfect teammates? Are you smoothing the path before them so there are no rocks to maneuver? If you are, then when hard work shows up, they'll most likely run the other direction.

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5. No failure: When we let our kids fail and come back stronger because of it, they see the value, and respect the process of hard work.

There’s only one way to learn the value of hard work, and that’s by doing it. As author Margaret Mead once said, “I learned the value of hard work by working hard.”

Let’s not sugarcoat hard work for our kids, and let’s not provide shortcuts for the hard work that provides great growth opportunities for kids.

There's nothing fun about working hard, but there's something fun about the result of hard work. And that’s what we should impress upon our children.

The results. The rewards. The successes. The small victories. They only come from hard work.

Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for sports parents. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about how she can help parents have Less Stress and More Fun in Youth Sports.

This is an updated version of a blog that originally published May 23, 2016.