Overenthusiastic Sports Parents

When your child is involved in an activity, of course you want to support them to do their best. The problem with some parents, though, is they can cross the line between supporting their children and embarrassing them with the wrong kind of support.

Cheering on your kids is a fabulous way to show that you are engaged in their activities and that you are proud of them. However, arguing with their coaches and game officials, yelling at kids on the opposing team and basically causing a scene that embarrasses the kids and other parents around you is just plain wrong.

Getting your child involved in youth sports has many benefits including socialization, gaining self-confidence, providing positive role models in their coaches, and developing reasoning and choice-making abilities. It’s also an opportunity for you to show your child that you support them unconditionally, and to teach them by setting an example of good sportsmanship.

Watching your child perform is an emotional experience. You want them to do well. You want them to do their best. But even if they don’t win, supporting them in their performance will likely boost their self-confidence even in their loss. Remember, you are the first person your child looks to when it comes to setting an example.

Over-enthusiasm, even though you may think shows you care more than quieter parents, can be embarrassing for you and your child. Incessant bragging about kids’ sporting achievements, giving false praise or too much jeering, and placing too much emphasis on doing well in a particular sport can be signs of over-the-top behavior.

Cheering too loudly, yelling at coaches or officials, name-calling to kids on either team, and arguing with parents on the opposing team are all scene-causing offenses that will eventually take the fun out of the game for your child, and likely for other parents just trying to enjoy watching their kids as well.

Trying to deal with irrational parents will be difficult in the heat of the moment, but there are some things that can be done outside the moment and away from the children.

Approach other team parents

If you’re offended by somebody’s behavior, it’s likely that you’re not the only one. Call a team meeting about a particular parent’s behavior and discuss the situation with as many team parents as possible. Find out who else does not approve of the offender’s behavior. If a lot of team parents agree the behavior is unhealthy for the kids and how the team is being represented, approach the team coach and ask them to address the parent who is causing the distress.

If there is a team parent who happens to be friendly with the offender, perhaps they could have a less-confrontational discussion with the offender letting them in on how the other parents are feeling. If no one is willing to address the offender, then call a mandatory team meeting where guidelines will be established on parental behavior, and discuss what the consequences will be if the guidelines are violated. Make sure all parents are informed of this so no one can claim they didn’t know about these guidelines.

Contact a League Official

If an agreement cannot be worked out within the teams’ families, it may be time to contact a league official with the concerns. This is also a valid action if the offensive situation is created by another team’s parents or family. If there is a problem with an opposing team, contact their coach first, but if that doesn’t get desired results then a league official is the next appropriate step.

Issues Within a Family

If the situation only involves a parent being negative to their own child and not directing their issues toward other players, coaches or parents, a whole new set of problems arise. As much as people may want to step in and help the affected child of a negative parent, it’s really a family issue. It’s not anyone else’s place to get involved in someone else’s family dynamic. Talking to the offending parent’s spouse may be the only possible line of action in this situation, but be prepared to be told it’s not your business when it comes to someone else’s family.

If you find yourself in a position such as these, you can try to make it into a learning moment for your child. Let them know you are aware of the situation and that you do not approve of it. Let them know that you are trying to do something about it, and that you are trying to make their sporting even more enjoyable.