1. Do support the Coach, especially in public and in front of your child.
Regardless of the emotions, always remember that the Coach has every one of their young athlete’s best interests at heart.
If there is a disagreement, settle it privately.
It’ll benefit all parties.
2. Don’t let ‘Did you win?’ be the first question you ask your child.
Rather ask ‘How’d you compete?’ Or even better ‘Did you enjoy it?’
Not every kid is going to become a champion, but every kid has the potential to continue loving and growing the sport through coaching, administrating or sponsoring it.
3. Do love your child for who they are.
First and foremost you are a parent. And your priority is to nurture and love your children.
4. Don’t let your child’s results affect your mood.
If you find yourself grumpy or angry after a race where results didn’t go the way of your child, it’s time to reflect on why you feel the need for them to succeed.
5. Do give your child space to grow and mature.
Your aim should be to make yourself redundant, in sport and in life.
Remember, junior sport is about them, not you.
6. Don’t focus on the outcomes.
It’s called ‘developmental’ sport for a reason – it helps kids develop.
7. Do focus on the processes.
The best athletes realise they can’t always control the result, so they focus on what they can control: their processes.
What was their pre-comp nutrition and preparation like? Did they follow the coach’s instructions? Did they compete the entire event?
8. Don’t tolerate bad sportsmanship from your child nor their Coach.
You’re not judged as a parent on your child’s accomplishments.
You are judged as a parent on how they behave, treat other people and respond to good and bad situations.
9. Do model good sportsmanship.
We learn more seeing than hearing. And we learn the most from people we care about.
No matter the circumstance, be the person they can respect and admire.
10. Don’t get too excited about good abilities.
Every sport is littered with ‘talented’ athletes who drop out, burn out and, in the end, lose out.
11. Do get excited about good attitudes.
Good, healthy attitudes can be carried over into school, work and relationships.
They can ensure your child continues to succeed well after they hang up their boots.
12. Don’t discuss (read: gossip) other parents or coaches.
Every sporting community becomes highly insular and that conversation will get back to the subject.
13. Do build good relationships with the other parents.
Hopefully you’ll be involved in these sports for life so develop good, strong relationships for you and your children.
14. Don’t compare your child’s journey to another child’s journey.
Some children mature early, others late. Some are exposed early, others late. Some peak early, others late. Some specialise early, others late.
Each child is on a different path.
15. Do let your child fail, make mistakes and experience the consequences of their actions.
This is how we learn and grow and develop.
Help them become independent, resourceful and confident.
16. Don’t let your child’s results be your identity.
You’ve had your turn, this is theirs.
17. Do enjoy the journey.
The reality is most kids aren’t going to ‘make it’ in their chosen sport. But this shouldn’t stop them from trying; rather relish the pathway they have chosen and embrace the struggle of improvement.
As a parent, that would be a fantastic legacy.