The ABCs of Sideline Etiquette for Parents
By Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman
The spring sports season for children is in full swing. Youth soccer complexes are packed with boys and girls of all ages and sizes chasing colorful balls with their eager legs. Neighborhood parks and school baseball diamonds are filled with children swinging for the fences or simply happy to hit the ball. Riding arenas are filled with horses and their enthusiastic riders hoping to impress the judges.
Regardless of whether your child participates in soccer, baseball, basketball, softball, horseback riding, swimming, hockey, or volleyball, sideline etiquette for parents is important. It is also often neglected.
Your behavior on the sidelines is as important as your child's behavior between the lines. While playing out the important role of spectating, consider the following ABCs of sideline etiquette. Here you will find valuable ways to support your child as you watch their participation.
A - Anger Management. Hold on to your temper. Model restraint for your young athlete. Refrain from yelling from the sidelines or stands. This can be embarrassing to your child and can build resentment toward your presence. Yes, get excited, but channel that excitement into encouragement and applause. Stay home if you're prone to lose control and occasionally berate officials or disrespect other spectators.
B - Bigger Picture. Remember that winning is only one of the goals of competition. Keep the value of winning in perspective. Yes, winning is important. Everyone likes to win. Yet, playing to one's ability, giving strong effort, exhibiting good sportsmanship, improving skills, playing within the rules, and learning to lose with grace are lessons that are just as valuable as winning.
C - Coach or Cheer. Many programs are looking for anyone willing to coach. If you think you have the knowledge, ability and patience, volunteer to be a coach. You can also lend a hand at practice if you feel qualified and the coach approves. Cheer for other children. Focusing solely on your child sends the message that you don't care about the team or the event. It tells others that you are only there for your child. Compliment players as they are substituted in and out of the game. Applaud their accomplishments.
D - Don't Be a Critic. Resist the urge to critique your child. Improvement is more likely in an atmosphere of positive encouragement. Often with positive intentions, parents inform children of their errors and how they can improve. This feedback is often unnecessary, as children are usually aware of their errors. They don't need parents making a verbal list of mistakes to be corrected. They need you to be there and to allow them to play and have fun.
E - Enjoy. Find enjoyment in your child's desire to be active and involved. Appreciate his willingness to learn a new skill and take a risk by performing it in front of others. Smile on the inside when you see your son or daughter take the field as they learn about blending fun and competition. Be proud for them and happy that you get to be a part of it.
Enjoy the benefits your children receive: exercise, fresh air, skill development, sportsmanship, and the feeling of camaraderie among their teammates and fellow participants. Also remember there are benefits for you in being supportive and watching your children grow into responsible, confident beings.
About the Authors:
Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are leading parenting authorities, authors, and motivational speakers. Click here to sign-up for their free newsletter.
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