Actions That Speak Louder Than Words as a Parent

By Janis Meredith | Posted 9/16/2019

Your words are impactful. They affect your child’s emotions, self-esteem and their feelings of security. This isn’t new to us parents though; we know the power of words.

However, your actions toward and in front of your children also have a strong impact. Sometimes, they can even undermine or contradict what you are saying to your athlete.

It starts with behavior that’s inconsistent with what you say. The old “do as I say, not as I do” excuse isn’t clever parenting and it won’t guide your children to becoming adults with good character.

I’d like to highlight a few specific behaviors that might be hindering your credibility with your child, without you even knowing:

Keeping or not keeping your word

Is your word golden? Do your kids know that when you say you’ll be at a game you will be there? Do they trust that you will keep your word on promises made and follow through with plans you have with them?

Your good intentions alone will not help you connect with your child and earn their trust. Be a parent who sticks to their word. If something unforeseen comes up and you can’t make it to their game, communicate clearly and promptly to your child. As long as it doesn’t become a habit, they will forgive you.

Dishonesty and Integrity

Do your kids witness you lying to the coach, other parents or even to other family members? If so, they will quickly learn from you that lying is acceptable behavior. Even if you think your little white lies are justified, kids just see the lie and not the reasoning for it.


Talking poorly about other people in front of your children teaches them that it’s okay to disrespect others. This is especially common in the youth sports world where parents trash talk coaches, players and officials in the car ride home or over dinner that night.

Throughout 29 years as a coach’s wife and 21 years as a sports mom, I saw many athletes who brought disrespectful attitudes into the game and I only had to look as far as their parents to see where they learned it.

Lack of Compassion and Generosity

If you consistently ignore the lonely shut-in down the street, the homeless person on the corner or even those struggling during the holiday seasons, don’t expect that your children will grow up to be compassionate human beings.

They will follow your example of generosity, or lack thereof. When you help your neighbors, friends or even lend a hand with your child’s sports team, you are showing them what true compassion looks like.

Ignoring the needs of others is easy to do when your schedule is jam-packed with activities, but even if you’re busy for good reason it sends a message to your kids: “I don’t have time to help others because I’m too busy getting my stuff done.”

Loving them with your time

It’s important to say “I love you” frequently, but nothing speaks love louder to those we love than spending time with them.

It’s easy to give gifts, say nice things or do a little act of service, but quality time is the hardest to give because it demands the sacrifice of time–something that many busy sports parents are in short supply of.

If you truly want your children to know and believe that you love them, make it a priority to set aside consistent time to connect with them. That will say “I love you” loud and clear.

A very wise man named Martin Luther King Jr. saw the importance of the relationship between words and actions. He said this:

Becoming aware of this dichotomy between our actions and our words is the first step to becoming parents who live what they say. And the result of that is producing children who learn to do the same.

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