It takes a lot of effort for our children to go out and give it their all as they play their favorite sport in hopes of being on the winning team. At the same time, it takes great effort on our part to be a winning sports parent who sets an example of sportsmanship.
Let’s get married and have kids, they said, so that instead of sleeping in, we can get up early on a weekend morning to go watch our kids play sports!
Does this sound like your life as a sports parent right now?
- Setting your alarm clock in the morning with five different settings to ensure you don’t oversleep.
- Scheduling out your morning to know what time to be at the field.
- Picking up another player from their home, to bring them to the game, to help another parent out.
- Your choice of dinner time is either 4:30 pm or 10:30 pm.
- Eating fast food on the run because you either forgot to eat or didn’t have time to eat.
- Sitting in overcrowded, metal, uncomfortably hard bleachers with strangers and other team parents.
- Clapping and then clapping again. Your life consists of clapping.
- Quickly driving back home because your child forgot to pack a part of their team uniform.
- Sitting in your car to watch the game, because it’s raining and you forgot to pack the umbrella.
- Paying all the money for sports just to watch your child pick a dandelion or catch bugs out on the playing field.
- Paying all those game league fees, only to show up and pay another fee to get into the game or a tournament.
- After a night game, you’re doing laundry to make sure your child has a clean uniform again for the morning game.
- Panicking in the morning because you forgot to dry the uniform the night before.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching my children do something they truly enjoy! But having a child or multiple children playing in sports, definitely requires a sense of humor and a large dose of patience.
As a sports parent, your main job is to support your child. You have the ability to shape your child’s attitude towards sports. It’s only natural to get excited and even upset sometimes when watching your child play. However, we need to keep in mind that our behavior as parent spectators is just as important to a successful season as winning the game.
Here are some helpful tips to be a winning sports parent:
Let the coaches coach
They are there for a reason: to coach your child. If you disagree about a certain choice they made, wait 24 hours to discuss it with them. This pause may help you rethink the conflict and reflect on why you were reacting.
Help set expectations
Remind your child that it’s okay to be nervous before the game, to lose a game, or to have fun when the game doesn’t go as planned. Think about how you feel when you first start a job. You may be nervous yet excited, but you don’t know how it will go. They feel the same way.
Tell your child you are proud of them before and after the game. Don’t go up to your child and tell them all the things they could have done better or point out their errors. Encourage them instead of making them feel bad. Remember, it’s them playing the game, not you.
Ask open-ended questions
After the game, ask, “how do you think the game went?” Or “how did you feel when the ball went past you on that play?” Let them tell you how things went during the game and notice how they feel. If you respond positively, they will mimic your behavior.
Enjoy the moment
If you notice that you are always getting upset over the game, your child will see that too. Learn to enjoy these memorable times.
Ultimately, remember, this is something that your child enjoys doing. Make it about them.
If you want to become more involved with your child’s sport, bring snacks (who doesn’t like snacks), start a fundraiser, be their team coach, team manager, volunteer, ref or be an umpire, or become part of the sport’s board. It may be just what you are looking for.