Sports teams and other activity groups depend largely on the support of parent volunteers. Besides acting as instructors and supervisors, parents can be team managers, coordinators, fundraisers, registration, event, promotion and communications volunteers. In our 14 years of parenting of 3 kids in a multitude of sports, my husband and I have filled many of these roles at various times. Most of these functions require little if any expertise in the sport or activity itself. Unfortunately, parents can get caught up in trying to help and end up doing more harm than good. The following may help:
Supporting Your Child
- Get Your Children to where they have to be, on time.
- Give praise where appropriate for effort as well as for results.
- Take time to watch your child at games, practices and recitals.
- Schedule time to speak with the coach or instructor about your child’s progress, but not right before or right after a game or practice.
- Criticize our child’s performance or compare him/her to their teammates.
- Add other incentives, such as paying for scoring or other accomplishments.
- Withdraw playing privileges as a discipline for shortcomings at school or other areas – Cut down on TV/computer time instead of social activities.
Supporting Your Child’s Team or Group
- Feel free to praise your child’s coaches and teammates.
- Offer to help out with rides or carpooling.
- Accept and appreciate your child’s position within the team or group.
- Promote the team or group in your community, at your workplace and in local media.
- Foster the idea that the team or group is the master of its own destiny.
- Be encouraging by saying nice things or nothing at all.
- Criticize your child’s teammates or coaches, on or away from the field.
- Fall in with a particular parental clique (i.e. the first string, the substitutes etc.)
- Promote unreasonable expectations for the group.
- Focus on things that are our of your child’s or team’s control. (i.e. Officials, opposition etc.)
- Coach or referee from the sidelines.
- Berate the referees; they are often just kids too.
One of the biggest mistakes a parent can make is to shield their children from the disappointments and hard lessons that are part of the sporting experience. If your child is not performing well or working hard enough in training, then they should not have as much game playing time. If they make mistakes that hurt the team, allow them to face the consequences. It may be hard but in the long run the children will become better players and stronger persons.