10 “Shoulds” We Need to Banish From Youth Sports

By Janis Meredith | Posted 10/30/2019

My husband-coach always told our three kids to get rid of the "should" mindset because it never did them any good after the fact. I should have caught that ball. I should have passed that test.

Why do we use “should” language on ourselves anyway? Why do we use “should” when talking to our kids? Perhaps it’s a gentler, albeit just as pointless, way of assigning blame, which somehow seems to soothe our sports parenting frustration.

Youth sports are full of shoulds, most of them useless and even harmful. Let’s work on getting rid of these:

  1. You should have tried harder.
  2. You should have worked more in practice.
  3. You should have complained to your coach during the game about your playing time.
  4. You should listen to me from the sidelines, I know what I’m talking about!
  5. You should work as hard as so-and-so on your team.
  6. You should take the game more seriously.
  7. You should be farther along than you are.
  8. You should take control of the team. You’re the best player.
  9. You should have won that game!
  10. You should be ashamed of how you played.

Let’s work on replacing "should" with encouragement, helpful feedback, and perhaps a little less intensity about the game.

Believe me, as your child grows up and continues playing, the competition will naturally intensify without your help. Be the parent that enjoys the game, encourages your kids to learn from mistakes and allows them to really have fun.

"Shoulding" your kids or yourself, for that matter, is just another way of living in the past, instead of focusing on tomorrow. "Shoulds" never accomplished anything but feelings of shame and regret. Should won’t help your kids become better; they just cause them to feel defeated.

Kids tend to place blame on themselves with "should" enough without you adding to their burden.

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