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5 Sports Parenting Mistakes to Avoid When Helping Your Child

Coaches and parents are quick to tell athletes to get over their mistakes; to move on, and put those things in the past. Kids are told over and over again one simple phrase: mistakes are made for learning, not for repeating. Your child will hear these words many times over before they will make sense. But maybe they would believe them a little quicker if they saw their parents practicing the same belief.

As a sports parent, you will make mistakes, but you do not have to repeat them. Don’t be surprised if you make one or more of these five sports parenting mistakes, but do be committed to not making them again!

1: Coaching Your Child from the Stands or Sidelines

I was at a game recently where the quarterback’s father spent half the game yelling at his son and the coaches, telling them what plays they should be running. I was embarrassed for the child, the wife, and for the father. Doesn’t he realize that he’s distracting his son, annoying the coaches (and everyone around him), and not doing one single thing to help his son play better? This approach to “helping” is a complete waste of time.

2: Coaching Your Child in the Car Before or After the Game

The car ride to or from the game is a time to tread lightly. This is not a time to critique your child’s performance or pump them up with last minute coaching advice. The car ride to the game is a time to let your child talk about whatever he wants, even if that means nothing at all. Talk about whatever they bring up, or maybe ask one or two questions that will invite your child to talk: what was your favorite part of the game today? What did you learn while playing today that will help you do better next time?

If your child gives you one word answers, take it as a hint. He may just want some peace and quiet. He’ll talk when he’s ready.

3: Embarrassing Your Child by Publicly Confronting the Coach

Whenever I see a parent accost a coach after the game in front of other parents and players I cringe for their child. If you feel you absolutely must confront the coach—and I’d suggest you not if it’s about playing time or position—then wait 24 hours until the game is over and make an appointment to meet him privately. If possible, take your child along and let him be in on the resolution. This will help you guard your own behavior and show your child how to confront someone while seeking conflict resolution.

4: Complaining About Another Player When Others Can Hear

I will never forget the volleyball game when my daughter was put into the game and a parent yelled, “Oh no, what are you doing?” It’s true that she was not the best player on the team, but she’d earned a spot and deserved every minute she got on the court because she worked hard.

That father insulted me and I pray that my daughter didn’t hear him. I made very sure that he knew how I felt after the game!

5: Making Things Too Easy for Your Child

As a parent who hates to watch my kids struggle, I know how easy it is to want to jump in and fix things, but try your best not to. This may make me feel better, but it will not help my child. It will weaken her and encourage the entitled attitude that so many are complaining about in today’s society.

You will not be a perfect parent, I can promise you that. But remember, it’s not how you make mistakes, but how you correct them that defines you.

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