Love them unconditionally.
Support their coaches.
Accept that they cannot win every
time they compete.
Allow them to be kids and have
Help them to develop as people
with character and values.
Turn off as a sporting parent:
don’t make sport the one and only topic of conversation at the
dinner table, in the car, etc.
Don’t introduce your child as
“This is my son/daughter the swimmer.” Their sports are something
they do, not who they are.
Don’t do everything for them:
teach responsibility and self-management.
Reward frequently for success and
effort but make the rewards small, simple, practical and personal.
Kids don’t need a CD or $20 just for playing a sport or getting a
Reward them with what they really
love: your time!
Be calm, relaxed and dignified at
Accept that progress in any sport
takes a long time: at least 7 to 10 years after maturation in most
sports for the athlete to reach full potential. A little manual work
and helping out with household chores are important lessons in
Believe it or not, kids can learn
to pack and unpack their training bags and fill their own water
bottles: teach and encourage them to take control of their own
Don’t reward championship
performances with junk food.
Skills and attitude are most
important. Don’t waste money on the latest and greatest equipment or
gimmicks, hoping to buy a short cut to success.
Encourage the same commitment and
passion for school and study as you do for sport.
Avoid relying on or encouraging
“sports food” or “sports supplements”-focus on a sensible, balanced
diet which includes a variety of wholesome foods.
Allow kids to try many sports and
Don’t specialize too early. There
is no such thing as a 10 year old Olympic swimmer.
Junk food is OK occasionally.
Don’t worry about it, but see #14 above.
Praise qualities such as effort,
attempting new skills and hard work rather than winning.
Love them unconditionally (worth
Have your “guilt gland” removed:
this will help you avoid phrases like “I’ve got better things to do
with my time” or “do you realize how much we give up so that you can
swim?” Everyone loses when you play the guilt game.
Encourage activities which build
broad, general movement skills like running, catching, throwing,
agility, balance, co-ordination, speed and rhythm. These general
skills can have a positive impact on all sports.
Encourage occasional “down
time”-no school or sport-just time to be kids.
Encourage relationships and
friendships away from training, competition and school work-it’s all
Help and support your children to
achieve the goals they set, then take time to relax, celebrate and
enjoy their achievements as a family.
Never use training or sport as
punishment-i.e. more laps/more training.
Do a family fitness class-yoga or
martial arts or another sport unrelated to the child’s main sport.
Car pool. Get to know the other
kids and families on the team and in turn you can allow your child
to be more independent by doing things with other trusted adults.
Attend practice regularly to show
that you are interested in the effort and process, not just in the
Help raise money for the team and
kids, even if your own child does not directly benefit from the
Tell your children you are proud
of them for being involved in healthy activities.
Volunteer your time for the team.
Teach your child the importance of
“team”-where working together and supporting each other are
Even if you were an athlete and
even if you are a trained coach, resist the temptation to coach your
own child, it rarely works.
Be aware that your child’s passion
for a particular sport may change.
Be aware that skills learned in
one sport can often transfer to another.
Accept “flat spots” or
plateaus-times when your child does not improve. During these times
encourage participation for fun, focus on learning skills and help
develop perseverance and patience.
Believe it or not, American kids
are unlikely to die from drinking tap water!
Cheer for your child
appropriately. Do not embarrass yourself or your child.
Make sure that each week includes
some family time where you do family things and talk about family
issues-not about sport.
Take a strong stand against
smoking and drug use (both recreational and performance enhancing.)
Set an example with sensible,
responsible alcohol use.
Don’t look for short cuts like
“miracle sports drinks” or “super supplements”-success comes from
consistently practicing skills and developing an attitude where the
love of the sport and physical fitness are the real “magic.”
If one of your children is a
champion athlete and the others in the family are not so gifted,
ensure that you have just as much time, energy and enthusiasm for
Eliminate the phrase “what we did
when I was swimming.....”
Encourage your children to find
strong role models but try not to let this decision be based on
sports only. Look for role models who consistently demonstrate
integrity, humility, honesty and the ability to take responsibility
for their own actions.
Encourage your children to learn
leadership and practice concepts like sharing, selflessness, team
work and generosity.
Don’t compare your child’s
achievement to another other children-good or bad. This creates
barriers and resentment and we don’t need any more of that!