A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Positive Parenting: 11 habits that really make a difference
By Greg Bach
Becoming a great athlete takes hard work and focus.
The same goes for being a great youth sports parent, too.
“Being a positive sports parent takes intentionality,” says Janis B. Meredith, author of the newly released book 11 Habits of Happy and Positive Sports Parents. “It's not going to just happen. You have to practice good habits. And if you blow it, don't give up. Keep working on building those positive habits.”
Meredith’s book tackles the importance of expressing unconditional love, supporting the whole team and seeing the big picture, among many other key points that can help parents fully understand the incredibly important role they have in their young athlete’s life.
As a coach’s wife for three decades and the mom of three who participated in sports from early childhood through college, she’s seen it all when it comes to youth sports: the really good, the painfully bad – and everything in-between.
“My desire is to help parents give their kids a positive youth sports experience and one that takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that youth sports provide,” says Meredith, a well-known sports parenting blogger and author. “I'm hoping this book helps spread the positive!"
Here’s what else Meredith had to say about what it takes to be a youth sports parent that youngsters will remember for all the right reasons:
SPORTINGKID LIVE: Parents aren't perfect and they're going to make mistakes: How important is it that they learn from those mistakes?
MEREDITH: It's as important for them to learn from their mistakes as it is for their kids to learn from mistakes. No one is perfect, but the difference between a parent – and an athlete – who is successful and one who is not is whether they learn from mistakes. You will make mistakes as a sports parent. I made a ton! But if you are willing to learn from them and work on building those good habits, you will see progress!
SPORTINGKID LIVE: Why is parent behavior at youth sports events so important to you?
MEREDITH: It's important because of how it affects kids. Parents may think that their behavior is not influencing anyone or affecting anyone, but your kids are watching. They hear you, they know. They get embarrassed. Sure, it's also annoying to other parents, but mostly it impacts your kids.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: In your opinion what is the biggest mistake parents are making these days?
MEREDITH: I guess all the mistakes could be rolled into this big one: Not seeing the big picture of youth sports. Youth sports is fun, and it can open doors in the future, but the most important part of sports is who your child becomes in the process. Parents tend to get very short-sighted when it comes to youth sports, focusing on things that really won't matter in a year or two or five.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: If you were talking to a room full of parents just starting out with their kids in organized sports what's your message to them?
MEREDITH: Take a few minutes to look ahead 10-12 years. What kind of person do you want your child to become? Then craft your sports parenting game plan around that vision. Another way to say it would be to start with the end in mind. We wanted our kids to grow up strong, independent, compassionate, etc., so we let that desire, that vision, influence how we parented and the decisions we made as we raised them. Nobody wants to raise entitled, weak-minded kids. But so often, parents don't use that filter when they are sports parenting. They parent reactively, instead of pro-actively.
Helping children learn life lessons through failure and disappointment that everyone experiences while competing is an important role for coaches and parents to handle. Are you ready for it?
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