How Should Parents React When They See a Player Bullied?

Youth Sports Psychology

What Should Sports Parents Do About Bullying?

When a 15-year-old soccer player is verbally humiliated by a coach in front of his peers during a soccer tournament, and then decides to pack up and leave the tournament, what should other parents do?

A sports mom wrote us recently to say her son was the target of “a barrage of put downs and screaming rage” from his coach during a tournament.

“I could see our wonderful and talented son start to become rattle and lose his confidence.”

He even cried after the match—which is very unusual, especially for a 15-year-old, the mom says.

“It took a mammoth effort in terms of organization, time and money to get us all there for this competition and we went home just two hours after it all began. I’m really not concerned about the lost time and money, just about my son’s confidence,” says the mom.

What’s more, she says, there’s lots of rivalry in this sport and she’s sure that some of his peers will be pleased that he was singled out and left the team.

“They will see it as an opportunity to improve their own position.”

And just as hurtful was the parents’ response. No one spoke up in support of this teen and his family.

That takes us back to our original question.

What should parents do in a situation like this?

The answer is simple: They should support the player.

They should not tolerate coaches humiliating kids, or players who are happy that a coach humiliated a team member.

To begin with, a few words of support for the player and his family would havebeen in order.

And, if you, as parents, witness a bullying event, you should take action to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

That means talking to the coach, reporting the coach’s behavior to his superiors, and encouraging your kids to back up the player who was humiliated.

This is not the time to use it as an opportunity for your athlete to enjoy more playing time.

That’s the only way the rampant bullying in youth sports will end:

If parents take action.

At Youth Sports Psychology, we’ve conducted a lot of research about the effects of bullying.

It hurts kids’ confidence and often leads to them dropping out of sports all together.

If you’d like to learn more, we’ve got a free program for you, if you’re an exclusive member of Kids’ Sports Psychology.

In fact, we’ve got two great free programs—including our anti-bullying program and our package that helps kids overcome perfectionism.

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