The emotions that a parent feels when watching his/her child play in organized sports can range from pure joy and pride to anger and disappointment. I believe most parents don't realize how emotional they become when they get caught up in the moment of watching their child in a competitive environment. The majority of parents start their children in sports for a number of great reasons:
That's only a few of many great reasons to get a child involved in youth athletics. Parents deeply love their children and have a strong emotional bond. They want to help their child when they fail and stick up for them if they believe their child isn't being treated fairly. The intentions are good, but that strong emotional bond can also lead to parents not behaving in a rational way.
Do you think you're being supportive by yelling at the umpire when a call is made against your child? Do you think your child feels better when you approach the coach during a game and in front of his friends and ask why your son isn't playing more? Chances are you're just embarrassing your child. It often doesn't take much for a child to be mortified by the behavior of his parents.
In addition to how you make your child feel when you can't control your emotions, think about the example you are setting. You wouldn't want your child to talk back or yell at the umpire. You also want them to be able to handle difficult situations without resorting to anger and yelling. If that's how you want your child to behave, then you need to be able to act in the same manner.
This really is a continuation of the point above. Some parents want to blame losses on the coach or tell their kid that the reason they struck out was because the umpire blew the call. A better approach is to help the child deal with the disappointment and letting them know that it's not the end of the world if they strikeout or lose a big game. They need to know that umpires and coaches are trying their best and part of playing is that things aren't always going to go your way. It's easy to be a good sport when you win, but helping your child deal with disappointment and losing can be one of the most important lessons that a young athlete can learn.
Let your child know that you are proud of the effort they give on the field. This can be done whether they played a good game or made a couple of errors and didn't get a hit. If you only compliment your child when he plays well, that's how he will judge himself also.
Everyone wants to be successful. If the level of competition is too difficult for your child, they will soon be discouraged and lose the desire to play. The number of options for youth athletics in most communities are plentiful. Find a level of competition that will allow your child to be successful while still being challenged.
The success of a child doing well in athletics can be exciting and intoxicating for the parent. The fantasy of what could possibly be can enter into the mind of parents of very young children. Maybe the parent was a good athlete and thinks, "if I only worked harder and was more dedicated, who knows what might have happened". It easy to transfer your regrets into a plan of action for your talented child. Parents suddenly have a second chance to make it.
When this happens, it's time for the parent to take a hard look at what the child wants and adjust his/her actions to fit with the child's goals and desires. Statistically your child doesn't have much of a chance of playing at the professional level or even receiving an athletic scholarship to college. if they do, it should be their desire that allows them to achieve that level of success. It's not healthy for your child or the relationship you have with him if you try and push him in that direction.