Sports Parents Influence on Kids
Let’s face it: The world of sports evokes lots of emotion. That’s partially why we love sports so much. But as sports parents, your emotional state affects your kids’ confidence in sports. In fact, if you can’t keep your feelings under control, your athletes might not thrive in sports.
That’s the word from Anthony Ross, a sport psychologist, former All-American tennis player and director of SportParentSupport.com, who conducted research at the University of Queensland into how sports parents influence their kids’ development and well-being in sports–and life.
Ross’s research looked at what sports parents can do to foster well-being in their young athletes. He worked with 60 kids and parents, and asked the parents to watch a 40-minute video and read a booklet explaining how to be better sports parents.
A month later, the kids of these parents reported that their confidence and self-esteem had improved, he says.
“The main thing that came out of this research: Parents should communicate unconditional love and empathy and focus on kids’ strengths,” says Ross.
Perhaps what was most interesting–and likely most controversial to you sports parents–as what Ross learned about sports parents who can’t keep their emotions under control.
Using research about how the brain interprets emotions, Ross found that parents who can’t keep their feelings under control have a hard time applying tips about how to improve their sports parenting skills.
Why? This is the controversial part–the part that you may or may not agree with. Ross found that sports triggers emotional experiences from these sports parents’ childhoods–and the parents are generally unaware that this is happening to them.
“For example, if a parent during his own childhood, felt a sense of disapproval when he didn’t perform well, it would lead him to feel a sense of shame and not as worthy.”
Then, years later, when this parent saw his child perform badly, it would evoke the same sense of shame about performing badly. “The parent may not want kids to feel that, or might become angry, and will do their best so the child performs better.” That often translates to yelling during games and pressuring kids.
Ross’s suggestion to these emotional-in-sports parents is to reflect on their childhoods and try to understand what pushes their buttons–and then try to change their behavior in youth sports.
Ross’s ideas about emotional sports parents are fascinating and certainly something for sports parents to consider.
Here at Kids’ Sports Psychology, we agree with his first conclusion: That sports parents need to communicate love and empathy and focus on what kids do well. If parents focus too much on negatives, kids will, too. That can cause them to embrace negative self-talk, focus more on avoiding mistakes, and stop taking risks—all mental game no-nos!
Want to learn more about how to improve your sports parenting skills? Whether you agree with Ross or not, you should listen to our fascinating interview with him called “How Sports Parents’ Emotions Affect Their Kids’ Sports Experience.”
Exclusive members of Kids’ Sports Psychology can listen to the entire 30-minute interview for here:
To listen to the first half of this interview, use the player below:
Exclusive members of Kids’ Sports Psychology can download our complete interview with Ross here and get his tips for planning for such injuries:
What’s more, exclusive members have access to loads of videos, articles, audios, e-books and more, including:
- Sports Parents’ Pre-Game Checklist for Helping Kids Feel Confident;
- Motivate Young Athletes in Sports and Life, an e-book;
- Confidence Video Tip 8: Confidence is a Long-Term Project, a video.
- What are folks saying about our resources?
“I use your tips to help a sophomore high school student athlete. Last night, after I gave him some of your email tips – relax, get in the flow of the game, have fun, play by instinct, etc. – He busted loose for a career high 20 points and 15 rebounds!”
Improve your sports parenting skills and help your young athletes make the most of their sports experience!
P.S. Whether you agree with Ross or not, you should listen to his fascinating theories. Exclusive Kids’ Sports Psychology members can listen to our 30-minute interview with him here:
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What are parents saying?
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