Twenty-one years of sports parenting gave me plenty of time to make mistakes – so many that you’d think my kids might’ve quit sports. That didn’t happen though, in fact all three played through college AND all three still love me!
So, how’d I mess up so much and still manage to have athletic kids who love me? I was always willing to learn from my mistakes. I recognized my errors and knew that I needed to work on being better in those situations moving forward.
If you’re willing to learn from the mistakes you make, it’ll make all the difference for you and your kids. Nonetheless, here are some you may find yourself making:
Mistake #1: Taking Your Child’s Game Too Seriously
Many parents take their kids’ games more seriously than the players themselves do. This can be demonstrated a few ways – being overly tense at games, getting upset about playing time or positions, hovering at practice or pushing athletes to improve.
Remember, youth sports are about the kids, not about you.
Mistake #2: Interfering
When you get frustrated with your child’s youth sports experience, your first reaction may be to step in and try to fix it by talking to the coach.
When the issue was playing time or position assignment, kids generally don’t want or appreciate that kind of help. What will truly make a difference is your child’s effort, coachability, work ethic, communication and leadership.
Mistake #3: Speaking Without Thinking
I’ve said some things to my kids that I regretted after, including a few times I took part in their rants about coaches. These conversations didn’t resolve issues, but just let me vent about frustrations and say some things my kids shouldn’t have heard me say.
If you have trouble thinking about your words before you say them, practice biting your tongue. Kids are impressionable, you’re always setting an example – good or bad.
Mistake #4: Motivate Them to Work Harder
Wait a minute, you may say, what’s wrong with that?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to encourage your kids, but it can be better to let a coach or trainer do the motivating when it comes to youth sports. When parents try to motivate, they often use techniques that simply don’t work. These include rewarding kids if they do better, comparing them to other players and assigning extra work.
Give your child opportunities for growth: training, coaching, camps and clinics. Let the experts motivate them and you be there to support them where they need it.
Mistake #5: Worrying About Stats More Than Character
I spent hours worrying about my kids in sports. Will she make the team? Will he get the starting spot? Will she get much playing time?
The reality is that it’s a waste of your time and energy to worry about anything you cannot change. Instead, ask yourself if your child is getting a positive experience. If the answer is yes, you have nothing to worry about.
Do NOT be discouraged if you’ve made every one of these common mistakes. Being aware of them is the first step. Learn from them and give yourself grace. Grow and learn from mistakes and be a mom or dad who becomes a better parent because of them.
Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.