Children’s sport can bring out the worst in some parents. It seems that inside even the most mild-mannered person there is a monster lurking that emerges when their children are on the sports field. This monster makes a parent argue with officials and umpires, disagree with coaches and drive children to the point of distraction.
These guidelines may help you tame the monster within as well as make sport enjoyable and worthwhile for your child:
1. Don’t allow sport to dominate your family-life or your child’s life. Insist on a balance between different areas and encourage your child to vary his or her interests.
2. Encourage your child and take an interest but don’t add pressure by being too involved. You don’t want to make sport a source of stress for your child.
3. Focus your attention on performance, enjoyment and participation rather than on the results. Your child is learning, so winning is not the aim of the game at this stage. Yes, they do keep a score but you don’t have to focus on that.
4. Your approval is very important to your child and he or she picks up clues by listening to your comments and observing your body language. Be positive with everything you say and do, except when children display poor sportsmanship.
5. Remember that sport teaches children many life lessons, such as how to work together, solve problems and also how to accept the disappointment of defeat. Sport is a great character-builder for children of all ages.
6. Encourage children to talk about sport, but don’t force them to communicate if they don’t want to.
7. Get to know your child’s coach and understand that his or her job is to teach skills, develop positive attitudes and promote personal development. Winning should be further down on their list of priorities as a coach.
8. Take an interest in other participants, not just your child. By removing the focus from your child you are more likely to keep a balanced view of sport.
9. Model good sportsmanship for your child and insist that he or she acts in a sportsmanlike manner at all times. Sport is a social activity and those children who are poor sports tend to miss out on this important aspect.
10. Emphasise fun rather winning, learning rather perfection, teamwork rather than individual performance and remember that if you want your child to excel in a particular sport he or she must enjoy their participation. For many children that means they must get more from their sport than just trophies and ribbons to keep them participating over the long-term.
A popular presenter, Michael Grose speaks to parents, teachers and principals on a regular basis.Michael comes from an education background, and has conducted post-graduate research into what makes healthy families tick.He's given over 1500 parenting presentations, including the first parenting seminar in Parliament House, Canberra.Michael is married with three adult children who have all successfully flown the parent nest.