Questions are the new answer, I once heard. So in sharing these questions, I would like to challenge sports parents to look inside yourselves for answers that will help your children grow up strong in character as they play youth sports.
Question 1: What do I want my child to get out of his sports experience? Friends? Exercise? Perhaps you are trying to keep up with your friends and their kids? There are a lot of wrong reasons to let your kids play sports. Be sure yours is not one of them.
Question 2: Am I forcing my child to play or is this something they really want? Maybe you are trying to mold your child into the athlete that you were not. Or perhaps you have a plan for your child to be something that he doesn’t really want or have the talent for.
Question 3: Do I stir up negative attitudes in my child by talking negatively at home about the coach or team? Your child will carry what he hears at home to his game or practice. It will affect his play, how he relates to his team mates and whether or not he respects his coach.
Question 4: Is my child afraid he is disappointing me after a weak performance? Parents convey this by the questions they ask, the looks they give, their body language, the comments they make. When your child has not had a good game, it’s time to filter your words and actions and be sure that only the positive is heard loud and clear.
Question 5: How can I help my child get the most out of her sports experience? I’ve written an entire blog to answer this question, but I think that every parent needs to answer it for himself. Reaching your own conclusions will help you live them out.
Question 6: Do I stress winning or personal achievement? Of course, winning is important, especially the older your child gets. But winning is not everything, and it’s easy to forget the small victories your child has when the big victory is lost.
Question 7: Why is it so important to me that my child has success in his sports? Maybe you are pushing for an athletic college scholarship or have visions of professional dreams dancing in your head. Maybe you are on a sports parenting ego trip. Or maybe you just love to watch your child work hard and succeed. Whatever your reason, be sure your sports enthusiasm is motivated by your child’s needs and desires, not yours.
Would you do a bit of sports parenting soul searching this week?
Janis B. Meredith writes a sportsparenting blog, http://jbmthinks.com. She’s been a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, and sees life from both sides of the bench. You can also follow her on facebook and twitter.