If you’re the parent of a young athlete, how do you manage the challenge of dealing with all the emotional ups and downs that come with competitive sports?

You want to encourage your child to succeed – but where do you draw the line at becoming pushy or, worse, teaching them negative behaviours?

As a parent, your own coping skills are put to the test when your young athlete is competing at high level – when your child triumphs, you feel overwhelmingly positive for them, but, when they lose, you can feel overwhelmingly down.

For their sake, and yours, it’s important not to get caught up in constantly seeking the thrill of winning. This can put you in an unhealthy headspace where you obsess over your own fantasies for your child – fame, recognition and success.

Paradoxically, a common issue is that your love for your child can lead you to behave in ways that harm them and their relationship with you. And, pushing your child to succeed can ultimately lead them to learn selfish, grasping behaviours.  

 

Here are some ways you can support your child athlete without pushing them over the edge:

DO - Give encouragement by regularly attending games, training with your child and consider donating for sporting equipment.

DON’T - Shout negative jibes from the sidelines, try to control your child’s coach or get over-involved so that your child feels overwhelmed.

DO - Provide constructive criticism by enabling your younger child to learn new skills so they can develop in an informal environment.

DON’T - Get over-involved by clashing with coaches or becoming a critical tyrant – this will take the fun out of training for your child.

DO - Be a role model by practicing self-control - children learn far more from observing adults than by following verbal prompts on how to behave.

DON’T – Act like a fan at your child’s athletic competition – this can have serious repercussions.