5 red flags sports parents shouldn't ignore

By Janis Meredith | Posted 3/26/2018

As parents – and especially as sport parents – we sometimes forget when to shut up. We get caught up in the emotion and the concern of the moment, then all filters disappear.

Words just come out, and there's simply no way to take them back. Perhaps if we saw some red flags pop up in our conversations, we might stop ourselves before saying something we regret.

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Watch for any of these red flags, and when you see one, bite your tongue until you have a chance to filter your words.

1. You express your personal worries about your child’s circumstance: Parents are really good at disguising their own worries as “concern” for their child’s well-being. I know this because I’ve perfected it over the years: “I just want you to be happy. I just want you to get what you deserve. I don’t think you’re being treated fairly at all.”

2. You tell your kids how nervous you are for them: It’s okay to admit to this after a game, but don’t say it before. Your child likely has enough jitters of their own. Don’t put more pressure on them by saying you're nervous, too.

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3. You put down the coach or other players to make your child feel better: Attacking others never helps a child improve their game, and it never resolves the conflict. Attacking others only makes you feel better for about two seconds.

4. You dissect your child’s game more than they do: In other words, let it go. If your child's not eager to learn and grow in their skills, don’t force it on them. In sports, especially as kids grow older, they have to want it in order to improve and have success.

5. You focus on performance more than effort: In the NFL, players don’t get paid for just putting out a good effort. Your child isn't in the NFL, so you should be all about the great effort they give each time they play. Sure, high-five them for a TD or a good game, but if you’re going to study their stats, do it after they go to bed so they don’t think that’s all you care about.

Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can break spirits. Are you watching yours?

Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for sports parents. She provides resources to help parents raise champions. 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 June 22, 2016.