Have you ever thought about the impact that you have on your child’s experience with a sport? Parents do not realise that their attitudes, behaviours and both emotional and physical presence around the sport that their child plays are very influential in their development. Some parents can have positive effects on their development, while others have detrimental impacts, but this is dependent on the circumstances around the parents’ behaviours. Parents can also either be over-involved, under-involved or completely absent in their children’s sports; all have negative effects on the child’s sporting experience.
Why is parental involvement in children’s sports important for their development?
Regardless of the situation, children learn to react by watching others and copying, particularly their parents. If parents behave poorly when a child loses or belittle them for losing, then the child may become a sore loser and feel angry or stressed when they lose.
On the contrary, parents who are supportive and uplifting when their child loses may raise children who are resilient and persistent in their attitude towards the game. Children with supportive parents are also more likely to regard the sport positively and remain interested in it while children with negative parents are likely to disillusion their child with the sport.
How do parents positively get involved in sports?
- Point out their skills
By pointing out the skills that your child has gained while practising their sport, you teach them to become self-aware of what they have learned and the improvements that they have made. This will enhance their self-confidence, improve their persistence (they now see that other people notice the reward of their hard work) and reduce their anxiety before games. Children will also transfer their newly found self-confidence to other areas of their lives, improving their social development.
- Trust their coaches
If you speak to your child positively about their coach and communicate your agreements with the coach to the child, then they are more likely to listen to the advice of their coach and you. Consistent messaging from you and the coach are important to avoid confusing the child. With harmonious messaging, your child is more likely to work towards a common and defined set of goals.
- Provide emotional support
With sports comes both winning and losing, both of which require emotional support. Ensure that you are there for your child through victories and losses and allow them to converse about their feelings with regards to each scenario. The training and coaching can also weigh on your child. Make sure that you are there to lend an ear, advice or guidance.
What should parents avoid doing?
- Becoming over-involved
While being involved is well-intentioned, it can also be overbearing. For some children, too much involvement from their parents can lead to embarrassment, anxiety around training and practise sessions (if you are present for these) and confusion. It is important to be there, both physically and emotionally, however, you should avoid intruding on your child’s sporting life and support from the sidelines.
- Providing technical coaching advice or comments
Avoid giving your child technical coaching advice, especially if you know very little about the game. The coach is in their position for a reason – they’re the expert – so, it is unlikely that you will provide more effective advice than them. If you do disagree with the coach on his method or approach, speak to them in private rather than in front of your child. This will avoid confusing your child and undermining the coach’s authority and will give you the opportunity to privately voice your opinion.
- Putting too much pressure on your child
If your child is playing a sport for fun, in an academy or is at a competitive level, they should always be having fun. Putting extra pressure on them stresses them mentally and emotionally and can cause them to become uninterested in the game and lose motivation when training. It is a detriment to their game. Children put enough pressure on themselves, too much pressure from parents can cause them to burn out.
The parental involvement of children is incredibly important for raising strong and resilient children and basketball players. With basketball, comes a learning curve as well as both victory and defeat. It is important to talk to children about this and support them in all scenarios. This is what teaches them to be gracious winners, resilient losers and even stronger players.