The Parent Impairment
Read by over 140,000 readers — this is the #1 article we have ever published.
It is hard to imagine too many people who would look into a mirror and admit that they are staring at “that parent”. Yet all I have to do is refer to “that parent” and you probably know who I am talking about and to what behaviors I am referring.
And check out the latest article in this important series: Parents on the Soccer Sideline – How To Deal With Negative Parents
Let’s start with those parents who feel as though their expert analysis of the game is so valuable that it must be shared at all costs – and sometimes with an undertone of disappointment or frustration. In fact, it’s so important that it can’t even wait until the child confirms that he/she is ready for the conversation – or interested in it at all – so it happens in the car immediately following the game. You know that parent, and you may even be that parent. I once was as well.
How about those parents who apparently know more about game strategy or soccer player development than the coach does (yet they choose to sit on the parent’s sideline instead of volunteering)? There is damage that comes with discrediting the authority figure with whom they are entrusting their child – which is what happens every time they verbalize a disagreement with the coach’s direction or strategy.
It probably shouldn’t surprise us that there can be such negativity on the sideline. The human brain inherently has what is referred to as a “negativity bias” – meaning that people tend to initially think about the negative aspects before anything else. That’s been a good thing through time, as this kind of thinking has helped humans in the early fights for survival, protecting us from dangerous predators, plants, and situations.
But, fellow parents, it’s time to all get on the same page when it comes to the evolution of sports parenting. Over time we have become more and more intelligent as a species, benefitting from the many psychology studies and research projects which have proven the power of support, positivity and optimism.
Groups like Positive Coaching Alliance specialize in these areas and they prove every single day that a modern thinking parent (or coach) will not only get away from the fight or flight reactive response to situations – but they can actually have a huge and positive impact on the development of their youth athletes.
The science can explain why we got to this point while the research educates us on where we should all strive to be. The even more simple consideration is fun. If you think that your child is having fun while you berate their performance, criticize their coach, and shout your own coaching strategies during the game – then you and I have a different definition of fun.
It won’t be long before the kids are not kids anymore. Take the time now to create great memories and lessons for them, instead of focusing on things that all deep down have more to do with your own desires than your child’s.
Jason Pratt is the Founder of ProConnect Sports (supporters include Jeff Tipping) and Partnership Manager for Positive Coaching Alliance (supporters include Claudio Reyna). Pratt has previously served as Director of Coaching for Boyertown Soccer Club and Director of Operations for Paul Riley’s Women’s Professional Supergroup, along with being a past clinician at NSCAA conventions and a Congressional Panel Member on the power of youth sports within a community.
Related Article – Part Two – The Solution
This article has been read more than 100,000 times. It was republished today in response to reader requests – Originally published in 2016 as Parents on the Soccer Sideline.