Are You “That” Parent?

Okay parents, now it’s time for me to call you out! Yes, you!

We have all seen the videos of parents fighting during a little league game. Or, see other parents degrade their child after making an error. I’m going to tell you right now, don’t be one of those parents.

Your child puts enough pressure on him/herself as it is. Don’t be the reason they cannot perform well because they’re too busy worrying about what your reaction is after the game.

If you’re wondering why your child has anxiety, you might be the problem.  It’s time to take a serious look in the mirror and ask yourself:

Am I helping my child or am I making it worse?

If it’s worse, here are some sound suggestions for helping your athlete be successful, both on the field and off.


Constructive Conversations

Observation: Athletes hate when parents remind them of their errors. First, and most importantly, have a conversation with your child.

And no I don’t mean one where you teach them a lesson or try to tell them what to do. Sit down and have an actual “adult” conversation about what is bothering them.

Do you remember when you were younger and wished your parents wouldn’t talk to you like you a child? That hasn’t changed. Children, especially adolescents, want to be treated as more than just your child. Show them respect and:

  • Listen
  • Be Empathetic
  • Offer Encouragement
  • Check Your Emotional Reaction

According to the TED Ideas Worth Spreading, here are a few more tips for communicating with your teen to build your relationship.

Bottom Line: Before you can help your student-athlete, you have to understand what’s going on through their eyes.

Help Your Child Learn It’s Okay to Fail

Observation: Athletes are hardest on themselves. If your child makes a mistake, don’t remind them.

Believe me, we know when we mess up, we don’t need someone to tell us that it was a costly error. Also, their coach has probably already reminded them.

In your child’s mind, they’re probably thinking something worse about themselves than you are.

Bottom Line: We want our children to learn from their mistakes, not be afraid to make them.

  • Try asking them how they felt after making the error
  • Reassure them it’s okay to make mistakes.
  • Help them understand the steps to take after a mistake
  • Talk about what to do to avoid that mistake in the future

Dr. Andrew Cohen, Ph.D. and Lisa Cohen wrote an article published in ActiveKids on this topic – check it out if this applies to you.

Your Student-Athlete (Your Child) Wants To Make You Proud

Observation: Athletes constantly feel pressure from numerous sources. Praise your student athlete for their effort, not the outcome.

Far too often we place too much emphasis on the outcome of the sport instead of the effort. You may not believe it, but athletes could think your love is conditional if you place more emphasis on winning.

If a parent says to their child, good job after every win, but you need to pick it up after every loss, that could lead an athlete to think they’re not good enough, or they need to win in order to get your support. If you only place emphasis on the outcome the athlete will burnout by trying too hard to win instead of being motivated to be better and learn. 

Every single athlete wants to win.

I don’t think I’ve ever met an athlete who was opposed to winning. But winning does not always occur and it’s an uncontrollable outcome. Instead, place the emphasis on the athlete’s efforts.

Perfect performance and outcomes will never happen. However, the perfect effort can always be achieved.

Bottom Line: The next time your child loses a game but tried their best, remind them that effort is the most important.

Try This –


  • I know you tried your best and that’s what matters
  • What can you work on in practice to make your swing better?
  • I love coming to watch you play
  • I’m proud of your effort, you worked really hard today

Remove these sentences from your vocabulary –


  • You made three errors today
  • If you would have done this you could have won the match
  • What are you doing out there? You looked terrible
  • You should have placed first

Parents: It’s Your Turn to Practice

Parents, let’s do a little experiment.

  1. Start using the Do’s statements listed above, modified to your liking
  2. Notice the athletic performance of your child, as well as their attitude

Use these statements for practice, private instruction, games and any other activity your child may be involved in. You may notice your child feeling more relaxed when they play, having more fun, and enjoying the time they get to spend with you after games or practices.

And one final thought. Do you know college coaches are evaluating the parents as well as the athlete? Consider this perspective from USA Today January 2019.