A few helpful tips and thoughts for parents...

 

  1. Focus on the values.  Remember the lessons you want your child to learn from sports (e.g., sportsmanship, grace under pressure, good losing/winning, teamwork, perseverance, health).
  2. Listen to your kid.  Are they having fun?  We don't make 8 year-olds work in coal mines; neither should they work on the basketball court.  Fun>work.
  3. Your child is not you.  The fact that you were a great athlete (or weren't) means nothing for your child.  Check your gut and be honest with yourself.  Who's game is it?
  4. Children should be allowed to quit sports if they don't enjoy them.  Promote exercise, being outdoors, and spending time with friends...these are the important life-long lessons. 
  5. There are a lot of sports and healthy activities.  Allow your child to explore and find what's right for them.  There's nothing magical about organized team sports.  A kid who likes hiking is no less of an athlete than a baseball pitcher.
  6. Don't talk to your child about a game/practice for at least two hours after it's over (unless they bring it up).
  7. If you're not your child's coach, don't coach your child.  You're the parent; be supportive.  If you disagree with your child's coach, don't say so in front of your child.  Restrain yourself before interfering with difficult coaches.
  8. Telling your child to be more confident is like telling them to be taller.  It's not something than any of us control, so it will feel like another failure.  Acknowledge that being nervous is normal.  If anything, suggest that they try to be really attentive.
  9. Don't attend every game, match, race, or tournament. 
  10. Promote generalization in sports.  Research tells us that it leads to better outcomes for most sports. Sampling across a wide array of activities is healthier on a lot of levels.
  11. Behave yourself in the stands or on the sidelines.  Applaud politely, but keep your mouth shut. Sideline coaching is prohibited.
  12. There's no overestimating the importance of a healthy lifestyle and a family culture of activity. Your child doesn't need more exercise than you do.  The best thing you can do for them is to model a healthy lifestyle.
  13. If your middle- or high-schooler says they want to play a sport, sign them up and make them finish the season.  Yes, they should be allowed to sample and quit, but commitments are important and they need to finish what they said they would.
  14. Keep your eyes (and your child's eyes) on the big picture.  A great ball player is not a great person. We all have strengths and weaknesses and keeping some perspective makes sports more fun.
  15. Focus on the process and the experience, not the outcome.