4 Ways to Be a Good Parent of a Middle School Athlete
Your role as parent is still vitally important at this age (even if kids start to act like it’s not). Here are some suggestions about how you can best help your child in sports at this age:
1 – Keep your post-game conversations positive.
Tell your child you love watching them play. This may sound overly simplistic, but it’s important to tell your kids that you love watching them play a sport, have fun, and work hard.
Carrie Ysseldyke of Hudsonville is a parent of a middle school and high school athlete and shared this advice:
“When they have had a bad game or are not feeling great about things, Drew and I never pressure them to talk about it right after. They are beating themselves up enough. We might just say, ‘even though you lost or had a bad game, we really enjoyed watching you and your team play. We appreciated the way you assisted your teammate by ___.’ This usually softens them a little bit, and leads to discussion about a few really good moments for them personally, and the team.
“We often celebrate some of the other teammates’ positive moments too, so they don’t take everything on themselves. It’s important for them to realize that the old saying, ‘There is no I in team,’ is very true. Each individual works toward bettering themselves, but in the end it should be for the greater good.”
2. Allow your child to make mistakes… and let the coach address them.
It’s hard to bite your tongue, especially if your child is playing “your sport.” But unless you are actually the coach for your child’s team, you need to zip it. Don’t try and coach your kid from the sidelines. Don’t bash the coach to the other parents. Your job is to cheer. That’s it.
3. Insist that your child shows respect to his or her coach at ALL times.
This ties in directly to my last point. Even if you disagree with your child’s coach, it is your job to set the right example. Being “coachable” is an important life skill.
This gets to be a tricky one at this age. Some kids are already very involved in some pretty advanced levels of competition (travel baseball, private lessons, USA swimming, etc.)
Several years ago, my husband had a kid on his little league baseball team that regularly tried to argue and refused to do things the way he told him to “because my pitching coach tells me…” And his parents stood behind him 100%. This is a really bad habit to start at a young age. Imagine if we all just told our bosses that they were wrong and weren’t going to do things the way he or she is telling us to?
4. Teach your kids to solve their own problems.
As good parents, we want the best for our kids. If there is a problem, we want to fix it. However, at this age, it’s important that kids learn to solve their own problems. For example, if your kid feels like he is not getting enough playing time, you might be tempted to contact with the coach. DON’T DO IT!
Carrie had this advice to share about problem solving:
“We encourage our kids to talk to the coaches, rather than having us go in and talk for them if there is an issue of playing time. This way they learn to communicate with the coach and others, which is huge! Drew and I always tell them that we won’t be at college, or at their job someday, so they need to know how to approach people and talk to people, especially when they feel negative or are struggling. It may just be their perception.”
Again, this is a LIFE SKILL.
So, to wrap it all up…Sign your kid up for sports, behave yourself as a parent, and know that the craziness of middle school will soon pass. Try and enjoy every moment!