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It’s a well-known statistic that 70% of kids drop out of organized sports by age 13, but there’s a lot less information on why participation after this age drops so dramatically; I have a hunch that a lot of it has to do with parents.
Perhaps it’s time for a parenting self-check. Sports parents mean well, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that it’s just a game, and it’s these kinds of behaviors that could turn your child off sports.
1. You embarrass your child:
Do you behave badly at games? Hassle the coach? Scream at the ref? Kids want their parents to be seen, not heard, unless you can curb the negativity.
2. You push too hard:
There’s a difference between encouraging, even nudging, and pushing. If you really want to turn your kids off, push and push until they are sick and tired and want nothing more to do with the pressure you are putting on them.
3. You want to clone yourself:
Your child may not want to follow in your footsteps. If you are pushing him/her to do so, you might end up pushing them away from the sport.
4. You hover:
There’s a big difference between being involved, helping out, and hovering. Hovering means you “keep lingering about, or wait near at hand”. When kids are small, this is normal, but as your child grows you need to let them learn to be independent.
5. You take your child’s sport more seriously than they do:
When you insist that your child practice, even after practice; When you press to discuss every practice game; when you push for your child to attend every available camp and clinic–and your child is not on board with any of this– then it’s pretty obvious that you are focusing way too much on your child’s athletics instead of their well being.
6. You drill into your child that sports should not be fun:
Perhaps you insist that sports is all about discipline, hard work, and being successful. It is, to a certain extent, but it’s also about having fun and enjoying the sport. It is possible to work hard and have fun when playing!
7. You are picking your child’s dream:
Have you decided that your child will play Division 1 sports? Do they even want to? As parents, it’s easy to assume that because we know best about some things, we should decide what’s best in every situation. Let your child chase their own dreams.
8. You focus on mistakes:
Dwelling on the negative will not help your child improve or grow to love the game. Learn from mistakes and let them go.
9. You concentrate on stats:
It’s true that the stats don’t lie, but they also don’t tell the whole truth. There’s so much more than numbers in youth sports; there’s good sportsmanship, teamwork, character building, and fun of course!
10. You coach your child during the game:
Do you yell instructions to your child during the game? Pace the sidelines? Hover around the dugout? If so, you are not only annoying the spectators and coaches, you’re also distracting your child.
Being a sports parent can be a challenging process. We’ve all been there, wanting our children to do the best they possibly can. At the end of the day, nobody will remember if your kid scored the winning goal, or the most baskets. What your child will remember is how they felt when playing the game, the friends they made, and the values that youth sports instills in the players. This, above all else, is why we enroll our kids in these programs.
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