When it comes to parenting an athlete – it can be tricky. You want to support and encourage, but you also feel the need to provide constructive criticism. It’s easy to praise successes but you find yourself at a loss when it comes to times of failure and disappointment. Sometimes you feel you know better than the coach, sometimes your aspirations for you child don’t align with your child’s aspirations for themselves and sometimes being the parent of an athlete is just downright hard. We don’t have all the answers, but here are 4 keys to help better parent your athlete.
1. Character will always trump the scoreboard.
First and foremost, it is important to raise a good person before you raise a good athlete. How an athlete acts after an event may be more memorable than the score itself. Nobody likes a sore loser and a sore winner is equally as bad. Teach your child to have class and respect. Instill in them the knowledge that sports and the scoreboard do not define them as a person. A key way to teach these things is to lead by example.
In addition, focus on building a positive sense of self-worth in your child that is independent from sports related accomplishments. They must believe that they are great as a person, regardless of how they played in an event. The last thing you want is for your child to believe that their athletic failures are also character failures.
2. Don’t define success as winning and failure as losing.
There will be times where your child plays their very best but it still results in a loss. If you have defined failure as losing, your child will feel like a failure even when they put forth their very best effort. It is vital as a parent to praise 100% effort regardless of the outcome and to treat your child the same after an event, win or lose.
3. Let the coach be the coach.
We know – it’s tough sometimes, but it’s important not to undermine the coach by trying to do their job. As a parent, your most important role is to be there for emotional and physical support. In a study conducted by Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller, they asked college athletes what their worst memory from playing sports as a kid was. The majority (and overwhelming) reply was, “the ride home from games with my parents.” The reason? – parents (mostly ones with good intentions) want to bring up the game. They say “why did you do this?”, “that was good when…”, “so and so should have done…”, “you would have won if…” etc. Odds are they already know what you’re telling them and/or their coach already mentioned it. There’s nothing quite like needing a parent but getting a spectator with commentary instead. Brown suggests letting the coach do the coaching and letting the child bring the game to you if they want to.
4. Be present.
You need to be visible at your kid’s events. It it important for them to see your interest and support in their interests. In short – be there. And you know…telling your kid how much you love to watch them play after their event is pretty much foolproof.
Here at ProLook, we are fans of the game and the uniform. But more importantly, we’re fans of the athlete. We’re grateful for quality parents who raise quality kids with a love for athletics.