In Coaching: Good/Bad/Unfair, Parents' Role in Youth Sports

They say that “talk is cheap.” They also say that “after everything is said and done, more is said than done.” If you want to really teach your child-athlete some valuable life lessons, then forget all of this worthless chatter. Instead, why not use the most powerful teaching/parenting tool available to you? MODELING

The way your children will learn the fastest and best from you is by mirroring your behaviors. This is really how all of us naturally learn. Long before we could even understand the spoken word, we were carefully watching all of the behaviors of our parents and older siblings. What we “saw” soon became what we “tried on” as behaviors and, later on, became how we acted.

Yes, it’s important to provide your children with verbal do’s and don’ts. However, these verbal teachings get hopelessly lost in translation if your own behaviors contradict the words. For example, you can tell your child that he has nothing to worry about whenever he fails, that failure is the best way that he can learn and improve. However, your child won’t get this lesson if he watches you getting upset with him each time that he fails or messes up. Similarly your words will also be lost if he witnesses you continually getting upset with yourself each time that you fail. If your child sees you a nervous wreck before all of her competitions, how is she supposed to learn to relax before she competes and that competing is really supposed to be just for fun?

Want to teach your children the value of teamwork and sacrificing “I” for “we?” Model this kind of behavior in your interactions with your child’s teammates, with how you respond when your child has to sit the bench, with how hard you cheer for the team, even when it’s for one of your child’s teammates. Want to teach the values of honesty and trust to your children? Be honest and trustworthy in all of your interactions. Want your child-athlete to be a good sport? You got it! You need to be a good sport at your son or daughter’s games!

Simply put, we teach our children how to be in the world by “walking the talk,” by putting our behaviors where our mouth is. Talk may be cheap, but your day-to-day behaviors which are witnessed by your children are priceless. Know thyself as a parent and know exactly what you are teaching your kids!


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