Parents as Spectators
We have all seen the impact that pushy parents can have on their children participating but it is also observed by other parents and coaches. This section will hopefully provide some red flags to help you and your child enjoy their time fishing without fear of pressure.
Parents play an essential part in encouraging and supporting their child’s participation in their chosen sport. There are obvious parts to this, like providing lifts to and from training and matches, or by buying sports kit and equipment.
Many of you also contribute by helping as volunteers at the club, running fundraising events or helping out with websites or funding applications. You can provide a positive role model, encouraging fair play and a sporting approach to your child’s involvement.
However, there are times when parental behaviour is much less positive and makes it difficult for children to enjoy or even continue to take part in their sport. Sometimes parents may not initially recognise or realise that they are behaving in a negative or abusive way.
Problems arise when parents:
- are consistently negative about, mock, verbally abuse or threaten their own child or other players
- criticise or goad officials, other spectators or coaches
- square up to, threaten or have fights with other adults or young players
- encroach on the court/field of play, physically intervene, or disrupt play
- expect too much of their children
- focus exclusively on winning at any cost
- impose sporting aspirations on their children
- encourage foul play or rule breaking
- contradict the advice or guidance of the coach
- push gifted children too hard and too fast
- pursue their own sporting dreams through their children
- define their child by their talent and success alone
- demand that their child sacrifices ‘fun’ activities for ‘serious’ training
It’s important to understand and acknowledge how poor parental behaviour affects children (their own, other young participants or young officials).
Children tell us:
‘I get really scared when they are all shouting at me’
‘His dad was shouting ‘you’re a disgrace to the family’ – I felt really bad for him’
‘Dad thinks he’s helping – but he just puts me off my game’
‘When mum starts yelling from the side, I feel so embarrassed’
‘It doesn’t matter if I played well – if we lose, they don’t even talk to me’
‘They started fighting…I was terrified…I wanted to run away ‘
’It’s confusing when the coach says do this, but dad says do it different’
‘When I don’t do as well as I should I know mum feels I’ve let her down – even if she doesn’t say it’
‘I just wanted to give it all up’
‘He seems to forget that it’s my team’.
- Support your child enthusiastically
- Encourage your child without expecting perfection
- Be a good role model – to children and other parents
- Promote fair play
- Acknowledge the efforts of all the children
- Encourage your child to play by the rules
- Support the coaches and officials (particularly young officials)
- Share challenges or criticisms (of officials, coaches or players) in a constructive way
- Encourage other spectators to be positive
- Challenge or report poor bankside behaviour
- Allow the coaches to coach
- Support and respect your child’s ambitions in sport
- Remember that this is your child’s sporting experience – not yours
- Celebrate and support your child as a whole person who needs a range of experiences both inside and outside sport