Every home has rules. I am a firm believer that one of the jobs of being a good parent is knowing when to break your own rules.
Knowing when to break the rules as a sports parent is the tricky part. You must use discretion when breaking these rules because if you break them too often, they are useless when they are in force. Let parental intuition and common sense guide your rule-breaking opportunities.
Rules that can be broken
Rule #1: Don’t push your kids
It’s never a good idea for parents to hover over and constantly push their kids because you want them to learn how to push themselves. But there are occasions when a little pushing communicates your love in a different way. Give them a gentle push by signing them up for the clinic he/she is not sure they want to attend or by hiring that private coach they're not sure they want. Be sure you don’t break this rule too often or it will become a bad habit that could hurt your relationship with your child.
Rule #2 Kids need rest
Of course it is important for kids to get plenty of sleep, but sometimes you just have to throw bedtime out the window. There will be nights when your child gets home late from practice or a game and has to stay up and finish homework or tournament weekends when they are on the go and don’t get a lot of sleep.
Rule #3 Stay away from junk food
In our house, the rules of thumb is that eating healthy is a lifestyle, not a 21 day challenge or a 6 month diet. If your family is following that guideline, then a trip to MacDonalds every now and then, or a soda once in a while is not going to do much harm. There’s a lot of emphasis on the athlete’s diet and it’s true that what your child puts into his body will affect his performance. Keep “Junk food” as a special treat not a daily habit.
Rule #4 Don’t let your kids become couch potatoes
There is a time and a place for letting your kids relax in front of the TV or video games. When they come home from practice, they may just need to relax in front of Netflix or when they’ve had a busy week, some down time playing video games is okay.
Rule #5 Don’t let your kids see you sweat
If you are hung up on the idea that you must always be a calm, cool, and collected and sports parent, you will stress yourself out. It’s okay for your child to see you excited and to watch you maneuver through your mistakes. Remember, this is a rule to be broken, not a habit-forming lifestyle. However, it’s okay for your kids to see you are human. How else will they learn to deal with hardship if they don’t see how you work through it?
Rule #6 Don’t talk to the Coach
When it comes to playing time or position, it’s best to let your child talk to the coach. However, there may be times when your child needs someone to go with them as they talk to his coach. And when it comes to safety or moral issues, then you absolutely should talk to the coach yourself.
What are the rules that should NOT be broken? In our sports-minded family, the rules that we did not let slide were ones that focused on treating opponents, coaches, and teammates with compassion and respect. Stick to your guns on those because people always matter.
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.