Expert Parent Advice

Good Parent Sportsmanship

Are you “that parent” at your child’s soccer game?

The line between being a supportive, engaged, sports-loving parent and applying too much pressure on kids is easily crossed.   What seems like enthusiastic cheering from the sidelines can be a total embarrassment for your kids.

I’m Amy McCready with Positive Parenting Solutions and I’m proud to partner with Kids ‘R’ Kids for the Expert Parenting Advice Series.  Today, I’ll share simple strategies so parents can keep their cool as the sports season heats up. 

From scrimmages to state championships, it’s important that we demonstrate good parent sportsmanship.  The following pregame, game time and post game strategies will go a long way in sporting a winning attitude:

First, the Pre-Game Show.  Let’s face it, it’s easy for parents to get caught up in the competition and put undue pressure on kids. But remember, we want kids to love playing sports whether they score or not.  When kids feel pressure to score or make the big play, it diminishes the enjoyment of the game.  Your pre-game discussion should just focus on encouraging your child to do her best and enjoy the game—no matter the outcome. Not only will you set a good example by keeping it less competitive, you’ll set her up for success.

It’s Game Time!

During the game, use encouraging comments for both your child and his teammates, and avoid criticizing anyone on the field. Save constructive feedback for one-on-one discussions with your child after the emotion of the game has passed.

We also want to avoid criticizing referees because this teaches the child to have a victim mentality and reinforces that it’s okay to blame others for his/her performance. Even if the call is wrong, the referee is doing his or her best, and we need to zip the lips!

Avoid coaching from the sidelines! Nothing frustrates a coach more than when a parent yells, “Shoot the ball!” when the play was intended for your child to pass the ball. Let the coaches do the coaching, even if you think you could do it better!

For our post-game commentary, our kids need our unconditional love, win or lose.  After the game, put your arm around your child, and give encouraging feedback.

Focus on positive improvement over the last game.  For a victory, we might say, “All that practice in the driveway really paid off!” For a loss, we can say, “I know you’re disappointed, but all of those passes you made on the field really showed great teamwork!”

As you’re working on improving your parent sportsmanship, there may be times when emotion gets the best of you and you “lose it” on the sidelines.  What should you do? 

The answer to that question as well as more strategies for good parent sportsmanship can be found in the interactive that accompanies this video. 

In sports, there are a lot of ups and downs, but everyone wins when we use these positive principles to cheer on our kids.

I’m Amy McCready for Kids ‘R’ Kids, and I’ll see you next time!