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Oregon Family Magazine

How to be a Good Sports Parent

02/28/2019 ● By Sandy Kauten
Everyone has seen “that parent” on the sidelines—the one who shouts at the referees, yells at the coaches and kids, stomps their feet or makes wild arm gestures when a play doesn’t go their team’s way. This type of behavior affects kids. Studies show that the top reason high school athletes quit playing sports is because of negative experiences involving their own parents.

If you want your children to truly enjoy athletics:

  • Focus on your child’s enjoyment of the sport and acknowledge them when they give their best effort. Instead of talking about winning, concentrate on their excitement about playing and encourage them to set personal goals.
  • Discuss with your child the positive life lessons that can be learned through athletics, including commitment, perseverance, good sportsmanship, accepting defeat graciously and being a good teammate.
  • Support your child by making sure they attend practice and workouts to reinforce the importance of commitment.
  • Support their desire to put in extra practice if THEY want to, but never force your child to play outside of designated practice times.
  • Model good sportsmanship to your child by supporting all of their teammates during and after practices and games.
  • Let the coach do the coaching. If you have an issue with the coach, talk to him or her directly, rather than talking about the coach with your child or other parents.
  • Be kind to referees. Even if you disagree with them, your reactions are teaching your child how to behave toward people in authority.
  • Use positive body language on the sidelines; your child will be watching you for your reaction during games, so keep it upbeat.
  • Treat your child the same after wins or losses. Try creating a fun ritual you can do as a family after games, no matter how they turn out.

Youth sports is a wonderful setting to promote good health, make friends, learn and have fun. Parents with positive attitudes, words and actions can contribute to making positive and memorable sports experiences for kids.

by Pilar Bradshaw, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Eugene Pediatric Associates