How to Motivate Your Child Without Being Pushy

By Janis Meredith | Posted 2/25/2019

Parents want their kids to succeed more than anything. When it comes to youth sports, that desire often manifests itself in parental pushiness. Everybody’s seen those parents on the sidelines or in the stands – yelling and coaching from afar.

The good news is that there are ways to motivate your child without being pushy. It takes a little more restraint and a bit more work, but it will make it easier to maintain a good relationship with your young athlete. Here’s how to “Push” Without the Pushiness:

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Ask the right question after practice or games. How did practice go? How did you feel about your game tonight?

These types of questions show your interest and gives your child a chance to say as much, or as little as they want. It indicates that you care and want to know how they’re doing, without pressuring them with too many questions. 

Offer opportunities for your child to work outside of practice. I’ll drive you to the gym if you’d like to work out. Would you like to go to a speed training camp? I’ll be glad to check out traveling teams if you’d like to play.

If your child says no, then drop the subject. Perhaps bring it up again when they do seem eager to improve their skills though.

Be at as many games as you possibly can. Few parents can make it every single game, but the more you watch your child play, the more your athlete feels supported. Your presence may motivate them to work harder and play better.

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Praise hard work. Little kids will eat this up, but as your kids get older you may want to temper your enthusiasm. Overdoing the compliments could end up annoying or embarrassing a young adult. A simple Nice job tonight! or I liked the way you played aggressively this afternoon will communicate your support without sounding like your love is attached to their performance.

Let them bask in their glory. Reinforce the fact that hard work pays off. Kids who realize this are likely to push themselves and appreciate dedication when they find success on their own.

Being a self-motivator is a valuable life lesson for your child to learn. It’s always important to keep in mind that if you can “push” your child without being pushy, they will feel responsible for their own success.

Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at