There is a well-known statistic that 70 percent of kids drop out of organized sports by age 13. The statistic doesn’t say why, but I have a feeling a lot of it has to do with parents.
As a sports parent, I encourage you to do a self-evaluation. If you are doing any of the following parenting behaviors, you could be pushing your child towards quitting.
• Do you behave poorly at games? Hassle the coach? Scream at the ref? Kids want their parents to be seen, and not heard unless you can curb the negativity.
• There is a difference between encouraging, nudging, and pushing. If you really want to turn your kids off, push and push and push until they are sick and tired and want nothing more to do with the pressure you are putting on them.
• Your child may not want to follow in your footsteps. If you are pushing him/her to do so, you may end up pushing her away from the sport.
• There is a big difference between being involved, helping out, and hovering. Hovering means you “keep lingering about, or wait near at hand.” When kids are small, this is normal; but as your child grows, you need to let him/her learn independence. You don’t have to be at every practice. You don’t have to pace the sidelines. You don’t have to stand by to attack the coach when you don’t like what you see.
• Do you take your child’s sport more seriously that he/she does? When you insist that your child practices, even after a practice; when you press to discuss every practice and game; when you push for your child to attend every available camp and clinic--and your child is not on board with any of this--then it’s pretty obvious that you are taking youth sports too seriously.
• You stress the hard work and neglect fun. Yes, sports take discipline and hard work, but it’s also about having fun, and enjoying the sport. It is possible to work hard and have fun when playing!
• Have you decided that your child will play Division I sports? Does he/she even want to? Let your child chase his/her own dreams.
• Dwelling on the negative will not help your child improve or grow to love the game. Learn from mistakes, then let them go.
• The stats don’t lie, but they also don’t tell the whole truth. There’s so much more than numbers in youth sports; there’s good sportsmanship, teamwork, character growth, and of course, fun,
• Do you yell instructions to your child during the game? Pace the sidelines? Hover around the dugout and coach when you feel it’s needed? If so, you are not only annoying spectators and coaches, you are distracting your child.
Don’t be surprised if your child quits because you are doing any of these behaviors. Sure, you’ll have more time and money, but you’ll also miss out on a lot of fun and the joy of watching your child grow up.
Janis B. Meredith is a sportsparenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents is available on Amazon.