Two ways for sports parents to invest in youth sports

By Janis Meredith | Posted 12/5/2016

Even if you are a very involved sports parent, it’s easy to miss out on some very valuable opportunities to help your kids grow up.

Perhaps it might help to view your child playing sports as an investment opportunity. Do not look at it as a monetary investment, because the Return On Investment of the money you spend over the course of a child’s youth sports career rarely pays off in a full college scholarship. Instead, approach this challenge as an emotional investment that has a huge Return On Investment potential involving your child’s character growth.

Here are two key ways to be fully invested in your child’s sports career:

Listen to your kids

Listening to your children seems pretty obvious and simple. However, parents will tune out kids because they are too busy with their own work or they are tired of what they are hearing. Listening to your kids is one of the best ways to show you love and are interested in them.

Take it a step further by listening to your children when they aren’t speaking directly to you. This is one of the reasons I always volunteered to drive kids to games and tournaments. I loved listening to the car conversations and hearing my kids interact with their peers.

The investment of listening pays huge dividends:

  • Your kids are more likely to talk to you if they know you truly listen.
  • You will understand and get to know your children better if you listen.

Listening also helps you understand your child’s needs. Does he need positive reinforcement because he’s not sure of his ability? Does she need assurance that her hard work will pay off? Does he need to know that his parents will love him no matter how he plays?

Mom and Dad, listen to your kids by hearing what your child is, and is not, saying. Listening is an investment of time and emotional energy that always pays off.

Love your kids with no strings attached

Listening to your kids is the input side of the investment opportunity. Loving your kids unconditionally is the output side of the investment opportunity.

Most parents don’t intend to convey a conditional sort of love to their children, although it will often happen unwittingly. When a parent is pushy, critical after games, or even angry at their kids for their performance, they are saying very loudly that their approval is attached to the child’s performance. This is the message, even if that’s not what they intend to say.

To communicate unconditional love, let go of the critiquing and coaching, especially right after the game. Even if your child asks for feedback, I recommend a simple, “I loved watching you play today and it looks like you had fun!” No conditions and no strings. Just pride, positivity and love.

Remember, there is always time for the coach to correct and critique problems later.

Don’t let these youth sports years go by without fully investing yourself and taking advantage of the opportunities to help your child learn huge life lessons. You may still be putting out a lot of money, but as the American Express commercial says, there are some things that are simply priceless. Youth sports is one of them.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called Her new book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.