I sit on the sidelines of sports year-round.
My kids play tackle football, flag football, soccer, basketball, baseball and lacrosse. In the summer, they're on the community swim team and participate in a number of camps. I'm a member of our football organization’s leadership team, and team mom for a number of sports, which means I get to see a lot of parents doing a lot of things.
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While most of those things are great – cheering, supporting the team, being good ambassadors of the sport – other times, not so much.
I get it. It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of the competition. Your kids are passionate about their athletics, and you want to see them do well. Plus, sports are emotional. They’re not all technique and skill. You have passion and heart and desire all wrapped up in there. Sometimes, even the most composed parent might lose sight of the fact that these are kids, this is a game, and we need to maintain maturity and discretion when we go out there to support them.
Everyone makes mistakes in the heat of the moment, but here are five things parents should never do on the sidelines of their child’s game:
1. Say derogatory things about the players: Especially if they can hear you as you scream your judgmental commentary from the sidelines. But even if they can’t, you should keep it to yourself. Saying hurtful things about children and their play is never appropriate. It’s OK, of course, to bring bad choices or unsportsmanlike behavior to the attention of the coach or an official, as long as you do so respectfully and without saying things to hurt the child involved.
2. Interfere with coaching: If you wanted to be the coach, you should've signed up and dedicated your time to doing so. Even if you don’t agree with a coach’s decision in a game, it’s not appropriate to yell from the sidelines that your child should disobey them.
If you feel like your child is in an unsafe situation, removing them from play is the answer. But if you just don’t like the coach’s strategy for defense, your plan of action should be to make a note and bring it up later. That way, your child doesn’t have to be confused or embarrassed while in the middle of play.
3. Attack the officials: You don’t have to agree with their calls, but you do have to accept them. Just act like a mature adult when you do so. When you disrespect their authority, you teach your children to do it as well.
4. Demonstrate unsportsmanlike conduct: A surefire way to teach your kid to be a bad sport is to act like one yourself. It’s uncool to boo a third-grader. It’s really sad that I don’t have enough fingers to count how many times I’ve had to say that out loud to other parents.
5. Yell at your child afterward: We’ve discussed plenty of times how much damage can be done by what you say on the car ride home from a game. Well, take that and multiply it by 1,000 when you stand on the sidelines after a game and read your child the riot act in front of their peers and coaches. It destroys your child’s confidence, impedes their development and diminishes their trust in you. Not to mention, you look like a jerk to the other parents who can’t help but overhear as you bully your kid.
Amanda Rodriguez is a humor and lifestyle blogger at DudeMom.com. She's a former middle school language arts and social studies teacher turned stay-at-home-mom, turned graduate student, turned professional photographer, freelance writer, pro blogger and Zumba Fitness enthusiast.
This is an updated version of a blog that originally published May 18, 2015.