There's 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're doing any of the following parenting behaviors, you could be pushing your child toward quitting:
1. 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.
2. There's a difference between encouraging, nudging and pushing. If you really want to turn your kids off, push and push and push until they're sick and tired and want nothing more to do with the pressure you're putting on them.
3. Your child may not want to follow in your footsteps. If you're pushing them to do so, you may end up pushing them away from the sport.
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4. There's a big difference between being involved, helping out and hovering. When kids are small, this is normal. But as your child grows, you need to let them 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.
5. Do you take your child’s sport more seriously than they do? When you insist they practice, 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 they aren't on board), then it’s pretty obvious you're taking youth sports too seriously.
6. 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's possible to work hard and have fun when playing.
7. Have you decided your child will play NCAA Division I sports? Do they even want to? Let your child chase their own dreams.
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8. Dwelling on the negative won't help your child improve or grow to love the game. Learn from mistakes, then let them go.
9. 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.
10. 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're not only annoying spectators and coaches, you're distracting your child.
Don’t be surprised if your kid quits because you're doing one or more 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 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 8, 2017.