Effective sports parents are those who know that their child is learning and growing through the youth sports experience because Mom and Dad have chosen not to get in the way.
It stands to follow that effective sports parents are also happy sports parents because if they are not getting in the way, their kids are most likely having a better experience. And the result? More smiles on Mom and Dad’s faces.
What are the traits of effective and happy sports parents?
They laugh often.
People who take themselves and their kids’ sports too seriously are uptight and not very fun to be around. Learn to laugh at the little things—ridiculous calls by the official, when your child accidentally scores in the wrong basket or when your athlete makes a goofy face in the middle of the game.
Youth sports are supposed to be fun. It shouldn’t be the competitive pressure cooker that some leagues and teams make it out to be. Compete yes, but don’t lose your sense of humor in the process.
They ask good questions.
Instead of telling your child everything, try asking more questions. Let them express their thoughts with parental judgment. If you struggle to get your child to talk, then you may have to wait until they are in a receptive mood and when it comes, be ready with some open-ended questions that will prompt good conversation: What do you love most about playing sports? What is it you don’t like about your coach?
Then they listen well.
Asking good questions is half of the equation. The other half is listening well. Be an active listener who puts down the phone or the book to look your child in the eyes. As you listen, be aware of their body language and what they may not be saying.
They don’t insert themselves.
They understand that this is YOUTH sports and that their kids need to fight their own battles. They recognize that inserting themselves into every situation only stunts their child’s emotional and mental growth.
They don’t worship the numbers.
They may or may not keep stats, but either way, they are more interested in their child’s progress and process than about the stats book. Sometimes the stats are telling and sometimes they don’t say it all. It’s okay to use them as a measurement, but don’t use them as the only measurement.
They don’t have to be everywhere.
Effective and happy sports parents have shown consistent support to their athletes and therefore their children know that if Mom or Dad misses a game, the world won’t end. Parents, give yourself permission to miss a game every once in a while. It’s okay; if your child knows you love and support them, they will be fine.
They are not defined by their athlete’s abilities.
Being proud of your child is one thing but finding your sense of identity in being so-and-so’s mom or dad is way too much of a burden to place on your child. If you find that you’re way too invested in your child’s youth sports journey, even more than your child is, you might want to think about expanding your life outside of youth sports.
Whether you have one or most of these traits, keep plugging. It’s a growth process for you just as much as it is for your child.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.