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Sideline Parenting: Are You Creating Praise Junkies?

Are you doing what it takes to help your kid succeed on the sports field? These three tips might surprise you.

Season sports are in full swing now and kids are ramping back up and focusing on building their skills and learning how to be good teammates. Most parents sign their children up for sports activities to help instill the values they want most for their children: good sportsmanship, being a team member, hard work, athleticism and friendship.

All parents want what’s best for their child out on the field or court and generally believe that their presence and support will help. Unfortunately, the latter part of the statement is not always true. Parents often and easily get caught up in the excitement and intensity of the game and don't always behave in ways that are helpful (hint: It's not about adult egos and play-time decisions).

Here are three pointers that can help kids succeed in their sport of interest and have fun doing it this season.

1. Provide support to your player and all the other players on the field

If your child is participating in a team sport then go out to support the team. Every child needs to be recognized for their individual effort and skills. This does not mean a continuous stream of "good jobs." It means giving specific feedback like "Great effort on taking the shot" or "You really had control of the ball.” Nonspecific praise can actually backfire and create reward/praise junkies, steal a child’s pleasure and decrease motivation and/or interest.

2. Communicate with the coaches

If there is something that might affect your child's performance or behavior let the coaches know as soon as possible. The more information you share about your child, the better your coaches can assist him or her. What you communicate with your coach is just as important. There are topics that are not helpful, such as how much playing time your child is getting, team strategy, and information about team members other than your child.

3. Let everyone running the game do his or her job

The coaches have a plan and are often strategizing and working on specific techniques. It is important to not put your child in a situation where they cannot follow the coach’s direction or coaching. Sometimes the best practice, and the most difficult, is to say nothing. Trust that the coach and the referees know what they are doing and let them do their jobs. If your child is embarrassed by you, it might be a good indicator that your sideline behavior needs be toned down.

There are so many benefits to participating in both individual and team sports. Sports activities are some of best and safest places for children to take risks and get really comfortable with failure because the consequences are not lethal or permanent. If things didn't go well, let them share what the missed opportunities were. Children learn more when they come up with their own ideas and solutions.

When they have had a great game, let them lead the conversation and share their victory with you. Your job is to simply stay positive and be your child's biggest fan. Research has shown that kids who enjoy sports are more likely to stay committed. So stay positive, get out of the way, and have a fun time with your child!

Originally published on GROW Parenting


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