As a parent, you have the ability to make or break your child’s sporting experience. You are your child’s role model whether you like it or not, both good and bad. It is crucial to set a good example because our children will emulate the behavior they see displayed. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
Attitude – Attitude is everything. Your attitude will reflect on your child’s attitude toward the game. If you complain about the amount of (or lack of) practice, the coach’s choice of players or plays, and the referees call in the fourth quarter you are sending a negative message about the sport to your player. There will always be things you don’t agree with, but your player may not see them as a problem until you bring them up, so don’t.
Handle Conflicts Appropriately – When a disagreement with a coach, parent or peer happens, show your child how to handle it appropriately. This means calm discussions of facts, offering and accepting constructive feedback, formulating a plan of action and sometimes agreeing to disagree. This will provide a powerful example for your player of how to handle their own disagreements when you aren’t there to fight the battle for them. With that solid foundation in place, encourage your child to handle their own conflicts when they arise.
Fair play – Playing by the rules is essential in sports for the enjoyment and safety of all participants. Support the coach, the team and your player by learning the rules of the game and helping your child apply them. When dealing with talent gaps on a team, keep in mind that young, developing players will greatly improve by playing with more experienced players.
Good sportsmanship – You’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some. How you do both is a good sign of your character. This will be witnessed and mirrored by your child. Make the reflection one that you would like to see.
Take an active role – Show your child that you think this endeavor is worthwhile and that you are committed to their success by getting them to practice and games on time. Help out at practice when you can. Even if you don’t like or don’t understand the sport your child has chosen to participate in, your presence and dedication says that you care about them and support their choices.
There is a Chinese Proverb: Tiger father begets tiger son. Our children will become what we teach them, both through what we say and more importantly through what we do. Be mindful to always do the right thing.