5 Not-So-Good Ways to Push Your Child

By Janis Meredith | Posted 10/21/2019

Children need to be challenged and stretched to grow. They need to learn they can do things they didn’t originally think they could. But there are good and not-so-good ways to do that.

If you’ve never thought about the not-so-good ways that you might be pushing your child, do a little self-evaluation by answering these questions.

How often do I “remind” my child to work hard?

It’s easy for the lines between “reminding” and “nagging” to get blurred when parents are concerned about seeing their kids succeed. Once or twice is "reminding", more than that is "nagging."

Once or twice may be heard by your child but nagging becomes background noise. It may seem to work at the moment, but its effects stay at surface-level and aren’t usually long-term.

Have I ever held a sibling or a teammate as a standard up against my child?

Comparing an athlete to another athlete or a sibling has never worked for me. In fact, it only made my kids angry. I learned this quickly and stopped.

Comparison can cause rifts between you and your child, and between your child and the person she’s being compared to. Kids need to understand that the talent of someone else has nothing to do with their own skills. Working hard purely for the reason that they want to versus besting someone else is the only motivation that lasts.

Have I ever coached my child from the sidelines?

Your child has a lot to think about during competition. He’s hearing voices from every angle—the coach, the team, the opposing coaches, the opposing team, the spectators—your instructions on the sideline only distract him more from doing his job.

Do I resort to bribing to get my child to perform to a standard I choose?

Been there. Done that. When my daughter was in high school, we actually offered to pay her for every basketball shot she took—not MADE but TOOK—hoping it would push her to take more shots. It did for one or two games and then the attraction wore off.

Let your child learn to push herself; she will always need that skill in her life if she wants to get anywhere.

Do I tend to bring up suggestions to my child even when they don’t ask?

You really should get out and shoot some baskets today.

Maybe you should get to the batting cages more often.

You’d do a lot better if you learned to pick up your speed.

Perhaps these are things your child needs to hear, but not from you. Let someone else do the pushing—a coach, friend, mentor, trainer—and just be the parent. If your child comes to you and asks for your help, then, by all means, help him. But let him be the initiator.

How did you do on this self-evaluation? Pick one or two that you need help with and dedicate this next season to working on them.

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