By Janis Meredith
Kids aren’t the only ones who learn character lessons from playing sports. Parents can learn, too.
I learned these lessons the hard way, through trial and error, disappointment and tears. I urge you to be teachable and willing to learn these lessons from your experiences as a sports parent:
- Learn when to keep your mouth shut. Sometimes your kids don’t want questions after practice or after a game. You need to know your children and let them talk when they’re ready. And then, be ready to listen.
- Learn that your worry doesn’t help them play better. It just gives you a nervous stomach!
- Learn not to be a control freak. Let your kids fight their own battles and learn from their mistakes. Let them reap what they sow. Let them suffer the consequences of their choices.
- Learn that what you model at home is what your kids will model in front of their teammates. If you trash talk teammates or coaches, they will most likely do the same. But if you are positive and build up the team and coach, they’re more likely to reflect that to their team.
- Learn to let the coach be the coach, and you be the parent. Coaches have their jobs, you have yours. Pointers and tips and help at home are okay when asked for, but pushing your kids like a coach only adds tension to your relationship.
- Learn that being positive helps you have a better relationship with your kid. Being a “Negative Nancy” about your children’s sports will only frustrate them.
- Learn that your kids want you to be their fan, but they don’t want you to embarrass them at games.
- Learn how ridiculous you look when you rant at the refs. I learned that when I saw how other parents look when they rant.
- Learn to love your kids no matter how they perform. If they had a bad game, they know it and don’t need any reminders from you. They just need your support and unconditional love.
- Learn to respect their choices of when to play a sport and when to move on. Even though you may be extremely disappointed if they want to give up a sport, if they don’t have the desire and motivation to play the game, it will be a season of battles and negative attitudes.
After 21 years of being a sports mom, I know that I became a better parent. No matter if your child plays 2 or 10 years, your willingness to learn and grow with them through the experience will make you a better mom or dad.
Janis Meredith is 28 years as a coach’s wife, 21 years a sports mom, 28 years a mentor and trained to be a parent coach
For more from Janis on positive parenting for young athletes, visit her website at jbmthinks.com.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.