Do you often seem to get too involved in your child’s game – be it practice or an important match – usually found hovering around the perimeter, keeping a hawk’s eye on how your child is performing?
Do you find yourself shouting out or even signalling instructions about how they should approach target?
Do you have your child’s coach’s number saved on your speed dial, and or often find yourself keeping that extra time after pick up just to ‘have a word’ with the coach about your child’s progress and to be ‘in the loop’ about other young athletes’ performance and chance of being picked above yours?
Do you sit around during practice sessions, discussing and trading diet information and training schedules about your child with other parents?
If you’ve answered yes to even one of the above, you are officially the helicopter parent.
And the bad news is that you are not helping your child in any way!
First and foremost, you are being a hindrance in an expert’s job. Secondly, you are distracting ALL the athletes, including your own, on the field/court with your not-so-expert suggestions and instructions.
Next, you are laying out a very bad example for your child – not only are you confusing them with probably contrary suggestions, you are also teaching them to disrespect their coach and team-mates.
If you have your issues about who is selected in the team and who is assigned a bigger role, and make it vocal, you are teaching your child to put themselves before the team.
You are paving the way for an early burnout in your child’s potential by constant comparing and competing, even in practice hours and diet.
What you could do instead.
Try putting your faith in your child and their coach’s abilities. After all, they are there because they are trained for that job.
Discuss your child’s day/ performance at the end of the day at home, like you would discuss your workday, with your child. Don’t make it seem like your world revolves around your child’s training sessions, diet and games.
Keep a healthy and distant relationship with the coach. Getting too involved only harasses everybody, and diminishes the power of performance.
At the same time, let your child know, that you share their interest and are always around for all kinds of support when required.
Having a sporty child doesn’t mean you have to drop everything to be involved in their sport. And it definitely doesn’t mean that another child isn’t equally talented as yours. Sports teaches children to accept others and live a healthy competitive life; being overtly pushy or jealous beats the purpose.
Go on! Be a chilled-out parent from now on! Enjoy your child’s sport, not live it!