Two words that sports parents should avoid

By Janis Meredith | Posted 10/3/2016

Parents can have a tendency to rant when they are in parenting mode. Just ask my kids. They will tell you that I’ve been on a few rants over the years.

And one of the traps we fall into when we get on rants is using amplifier words. Amplifiers are used in music and on stage to enlarge or magnify someone’s voice. In conversation, we use amplifier words to enlarge or magnify what we are trying to say.

Two of the most common amplifiers we use are ALWAYS and NEVER.

“You always leave a mess!”

“You never listen to me when I’m talking!”

Perhaps we feel that we need a verbal amplifier to convey our message because we think our young athlete is not listening. But the problem is, that as soon as always and never enter the conversation, the credibility of the point you are trying to make takes a nosedive.

In his book, The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life, the author Tommy Newberry has this to say about using amplifiers in our arguments:

“Virtually nothing in life falls in that excessive category [of always or never]. Aside from being distortions, these statements cause everyone involved to plummet below the joy zone.”

"Always" and "never" sports parenting doesn’t work

Using always or never in conversations just doesn’t work because they always create defensiveness and never solve the problem. These two words are often used in an attempt to get your point across, but conversations involving these words are almost always negative. You cannot resolve issues with that kind of negativity.

“You never do what I tell you to do in the game.”

“You always get down on yourself when you drop a pass.”

Parents who talk to their child athletes in this manner are often doing so because they feel frustrated. But the next time you’re upset and feel compelled to use ‘always’ or ‘never’ when dealing with your child, stop and think about what you are really trying to say. It is beneficial to remind and encourage the person you conversing with to do the same.

Using the words always or never in conversations only escalates the problem and cuts off the ability for the other person to understand what is being communicated.

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.