Reasons Parents Push Children in Sports

Whether you’re starting with a little one in Pee Wee Football or you’ve got a promising track star on your hands, parents push their children into sports for a variety of reasons. If your child is active in sports, provide positive support and encouragement to ensure she has a positive experience.

Performance Expectations

For some parents, nothing but the best will do. With high performance expectations, parents can even become abusive toward kids as they participate in organized sports, according to Terry Linhart, youth pastor and author, writing at Parents with high performance expectations can set high requirements for children. If children fail to meet expectations, due to mistakes or simply not having the skills or talents necessary, parents will have difficulty accepting children’s limitations.

Big Dreams

Parents with a flawed focus might emphasize a child’s athletic development at the expense of the child’s overall development, warns Larry Lauer with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. In this situation, a parent might have goals of collegiate scholarships, a professional career or even the Olympics for a child. These big dreams can create excessive pressure on the child to perform to achieve the goals set by the parent. If the child falls short, guilt and self-esteem problems might result.

Vicarious Motivations

If parents never realized personal goals and aspirations on the sports field, they might seize the opportunity vicariously through children, counsels Bill Cole with the International Mental Game Coaching Association 1. Vicarious pursuits as a sports parent can lead to pushing and pressing a child to attain goals the parent has always nurtured. These goals are the parent’s goals, but not always the child’s goals. A parent might push the child in inappropriate ways, exhibiting unsportsmanlike behavior or undermining the coaches.

Appropriate Pushing

When parents support and encourage children appropriately, the parent allows the child to choose the sport according to the child’s interests or skills. Whatever the child’s chosen sport, the parent will support and encourage the child to perform within the child’s abilities. The parent also models appropriate conduct and behavior for the child to see and emulate. Parents also encourage the child to respect and trust coaches. Supportive parents also understand that mistakes happen, while supporting children to recover from and learn from mistakes.