With obesity on the rise in this video game generation, how do we get kids interested in sports? We've all seen the pushy parents yelling from the sideline or dragging the kids out for some early morning training, but this could be doing more harm than good.
Kudos to the parents who are doing sports right! You're the parents who are encouraging rather than embarrassing, enthusiastic instead of overbearing.
It's tough to balance being supportive with being reasonable, especially if you can see your child's potential. However, we've picked out nine features of the best sports parents a kid could hope for. If you're worried about your conduct at your kids' games, use these as a guideline to moderate your behavior. If any already apply, then you can sleep easy knowing that you're one of the better sports parents around!
1. You don't live vicariously
You might be a failed sports star yourself, but you realize that you aren't living your child's life. You don't push your child down the path that you wished you could take, and you don't expect the same successes that you'd hoped for. After all, whose dream is it anyway?
2. You support the team
Although you love your child and encourage their involvement with sports, you see that there are 10 other people on the football field (and many more substitutes). A win for your child means a win for the team, and equally, a loss is shared between everyone. By cheering on the group you send the message that there's something great about being part of a team, which is a really valuable skill to have in later life.
3. You don't coach
Your child has a coach. You're the parent, and you don't try to take on both roles. To do so would be confusing for your child, not to mention embarrassing. Even if you have some personal experience with the sport, you realize that you're paying a coach who knows what they're doing, so you let them do their job. This lets you step back, relax and simply enjoy your child's participation.
4. You follow your child's lead
Putting pressure on your child will only lead to rebellion and resentment. It's your responsibility to make sure your child gets to the training sessions, but it isn't your job to force your child to do something that they're not enjoying. There's a fine line between encouragement and pressure, but by letting your child choose their own path and set their own goals in sports, you're giving the ultimate form of support.
5. You know the real competition
The best competition for your child isn't the opponent from the other team, but your child's own mindset. You don't yell at the other team because doing so won't improve your child's skills any more. The only way for your child to really achieve in sports is for him or her to try to beat previous results. Being comfortable with this fact breeds healthy competition rather than tension and rivalry.
6. You don't compare your child to others
We all take our own path in life, and every individual measures success differently. The same can be said for children, which is why you don't try to measure your child's success against others. For some, making the team is a form of success, but if your child lacks confidence, just joining a local club is cause for celebration.
7. You know that it's OK to fail
Sports are fantastic for teaching kids all kinds of valuable life lessons in a safe, supportive environment. Failure within sports teaches humility, and it's an important lesson for everyone to learn. Not only that, but failure will help to identify areas to work on, which will only lead to further improvement and success.
8. You don't look too far ahead
Let kids be kids. Making the college basketball team or heading off for a career in sports might seem like the ultimate goal, but you take it one step at a time. You let your child enjoy the sport for what it is, and if it leads to something more serious, that's just a bonus.
9. You make sports fun
This is the most important factor in making you the perfect sports parent. Even if your child never sees sports as anything more than a hobby, it's still good exercise and a great alternative to sitting inside with video games. If you make sports fun, your child will enjoy it too, and that's where real success comes from.
Caroline Hiensch is a physiotherapist, medical personal trainer and blogger for Fringepursuits.com.
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