Teachers and parents – can you imagine this scenario?
A teacher tells a parent not to worry about their kids’ education. ‘Just drop the kids off at school and pick them up at the end of the day. It is best if parents aren’t seen or heard whilst they are at school and when you’re at home don’t interfere with their learning. And whatever you do don’t try and teach the kids yourself’.
Ofcourse you couldn’t… because as an ex-teacher I can tell you that kids who have parents that participate and take an interest in their education perform better than kids whose parents don’t.
Now substitute the words education for sport and I bet you have an example of a coach telling parents to stay away…to not get involved, to pick your kid up after the session.
These types of coaches are out there and unfortunately, they don’t understand the importance of parent participation in achieving their kids sporting potential.
Basically, if it works for education, why not sports?
The problem occurs when coaches have one bad experience with a parent and then put in blanket rules that block out all the rest.
In my opinion, every parent wants to do the right thing by their child, it’s just that sometimes they don’t know what the right thing is. Unfortunately, we don’t help them, as all we do is tell them what not to do.
We put up signs saying don’t cheer, don’t treat the kids like professionals, don’t hassle the umpire.
All good things, but what about the stuff parents cando, what role can they play?
If we believe the following statement to be true, doesn’t it make sense to help the parents?
As your child enters the arena they are either excited to perform or afraid of messing up.
Both feelings are influenced by you.
The most important role a parent can play is that of ‘the parent’.
I love this saying:
Your kids’ success or lack of success in sport does not indicate what kind of a parent you are.
But having an athlete that is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient and who tries their best is a direct reflection on your parenting.
This is where the parent should focus their attention. Making sure your child has the skills to navigate their way through sport, school, careers and life’s inevitable ups and downs. It isn’t to teach them the micro-skills of their sport, it’s to teach them to be great humans.
The reason why you should be involved in their sport is because sport is loaded with opportunities to teach these lessons. Any parent worth their salt would relish the opportunity to help their child through challenges such as:
- Winning and losing
- Being selected and being overlooked
- Getting a game or being benched
- Success and failure
- Mistakes and embarrassment
- Teamwork and leadership
- Inadequacy and perfection
- Loss of confidence and overconfidence
- Lacking motivation
- Many more
Sport throws up these scenarios in virtually every age group and at every level of competition. It doesn’t make sense that a parent would not utilize these scenarios to prepare their children for life.
The problem is the coaches and clubs don’t spend time teaching parents how to build confidence, how to teach resilience, how to cope with setbacks etc. And they don’t teach parents what to say in the vital conversations before and after competition.
If they spent time doing this then the parent will actually be the coaches’ best asset rather than a hindrance.
But unfortunately, we cater to the lowest common denominator these days and prefer to keep parents at arms length because ‘it is easier’.
There is a way everyone can be on the same page; a way for parents, coaches and athletes to work together and create an environment where all three can thrive.
Believe me, it is worth the effort and most importantly your kids deserve the effort.
For more detail contact us about delivering a Parent, Coach, Athlete Thrive Seminar at your club.
About the author
Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High-Performance Training and Coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams. He has just been announced as the Western Bulldogs AFLW Head Coach.