Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Parent's Guide to Kids' Sports

There shouldn't have to be an instruction book for parents who have kids that play sports. Parents should be smart enough to know what to do and more importantly, what NOT to do. My daughter has been playing team sports for the past 5 years and I have learned that parents have no clue how to be good spectators.

I am many things. A mom, coach, spectator, and a team mom. I want to do everything I can to make my kids' experience in sports fun and positive. It can be difficult at times and it takes some effort on your part. You can do it! I hope that every parent would read this post and pass it on to someone else.

Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Kids' Sports

10. Do your best to have your child at practice and events on time. Life happens, coaches are not unreasonable, they understand that. If you are going to be late or absent be courteous, let the coach know as soon as possible. This lets them make changes to compensate.

9. Support your child. Focus on the positive things. Encourage them to be better but not by pointing out mistakes.

8. Learn how to be a good loser. It takes a big person to lose gracefully. Do not make excuses. Do not focus on the loss, but look forward to the next hit, ball, quarter, game, whatever. Find the good and focus on that. The more you look for it, the easier it is to find.

7. Cheer for every player. Sadly, some kids have parents that cannot be at every event. You don't know the circumstances so don't even start to judge. Be encouraging for everyone on the team.

6. Cheer for the other team. Yes, cheer for the other team. When kids make a good play, congratulate them. It doesn't change the score but it may change their life.

5. Did I mention encourage your kids? Just checking. Really, this is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. It is necessary in every aspect of their life, not just sports.

4. Support the umpires and referees. They have a hard job. Their decision is final and if there are any questions, they should come from the coaches, not the players and NEVER the parents. Once the decision is made, it is done. Don't use it as an excuse. Let it go.

3. Let the coach do the coaching. If you have such valuable information to offer to help improve the team, try being a coach yourself. Do not help them from the sidelines, they know your child and every player on the team. They know the strengths and how to best utilize them as a team. The hardest part of coaching is dealing with the parents.

2. Learn how to be a gracious winner. Yes, you need to learn how to win graciously. It is not as easy as you may think. When you win, celebrate but don't gloat. Rejoice but don't brag. Congratulate every team member, not just your child.

1. Only offer positive comments. You accomplish nothing but bad things when you shout negative comments to your child, other children on the team, the coaches or the referees. This only makes you look bad and further crushes your child's self confidence. It also embarrasses your child. Think of the old saying, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

Here is a bonus tip - The team wins as a team and loses as a team. It is a team, not one or two players. No one player is solely responsible for a win or a loss.

Kids are only kids for a short time. You only get one chance to parent them, there are no do-overs. Make the most of it. Sports are a great way to teach kids how to be a part of a team, learn cooperation, work together, be good winners and losers. Do your part as a parent to help them be successful.

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