Make home (and the car) a SAFE place to be

Let your children know that win or lose, scared or brave; you love them, appreciate their efforts, and are never disappointed in them.

Try your best to be completely honest with yourself about your child’s ability and capability to improve, their competitive attitude, sportsmanship and actual skill level.

Encourage them to look after their own kit and equipment as soon as they can. They can clean their boots, make sure they pack their kit and pads and put their dirty kit in the wash. Start as you mean to go on.

Be helpful and supportive but don’t coach them on the way to the match or on the way back or at the breakfast table. It is hard not to, but it is a lot harder for the child to be inundated with a constant stream of advice, pep talks and often critical instruction.

You don’t have to go to every match and training session. Even if you don’t have other kids to look after and support. You and the non-footballers in your family need a life and your footballer doesn’t need you to always be there. Work out a programme with other parents so that you and they don’t always have to go.

Try not to shout, coach or give instructions from the sidelines. Allow your child to play their game their way. Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be ‘out there’ trying to do their best, to be working to improve their skills and attitudes.

Try not to relive your football career through your children in a way that creates pressure. Remember you missed goals, you were frightened, you backed off at times, and you were not always brave. Don’t pressure them because of your lost pride.

Let the coach do their job as they see it. If they become too much of an authority figure, it will run from enchantment to disenchantment soon enough for your child.

Recognise that in victory your child will be elated and in defeat disappointed but try not to dwell on either too long (they won’t if you don’t). After all tomorrow is another day. So well done; or hard luck now lets move on.

Model good adult behaviour. Try not to shout at the referee and recognise good play by the opposition. Encourage your child to do the same and shake hands after the match is over with team mates and the opposition whether things have gone well or not.

Don’t overtly compare the skill, courage or attributes of your children with other team members. It is only natural for you and your kid to spot differences but shoving it in your kids face is not helpful.

Get to know the coach so that you can be assured that the philosophy, attitudes, ethics and knowledge are such that you are happy to have your child under their leadership and influence.

Always remember that children tend to exaggerate both when praised and criticised. Temper your reaction and investigation before over reacting.

Make a point of understanding courage, and the fact that it is relative. Pain barriers are different. Some of us can climb mountains but be afraid to fight. Some of us will fight but turn to jelly if a bee approaches. Everyone is frightened by something in their life. Explain that courage is not the absence of fear but a means of doing something despite that feeling of discomfort or butterflies in the stomach. Even the best get scared sometimes.

The job of football parent is a tough one and it takes a lot of effort to do it well. It is worth making all the effort when you hear your youngster say ‘I was lucky my mum and dad really helped’.


17 thoughts on “FOOTBALL PARENTS

  1. Start every conversation by asking the child what he or she thought about their own performance, how they feel about that, and what they think they learned out there today. Then, listen. Make it clear through these actions that their participation in this sport is all about them, not you, and that they have control over what course they take with it. Make it clear that your love and appreciation does not hinge on any of their decisions and that you will always be a devoted fan even if they decide to switch to swimming next year.

  2. Been a football coach’s wife for almost thirty years. Been a football parent for eighteen years. It is all about what the’ child wants and very little what the parent wants. My son got a full ride for football to college. His college career is almost over. He is about to decided rather to go to the combine. Enjoy every minute. It goes to fast, but let your child determine his own fate with no pressure from you. Let him start the conversations about football. He will let you know what way he is leaning.

  3. Reblogged this on The Preacher's Child and commented:
    This blog was very well put. My 15 year old wants to play football but he is having issues with his grades. He lives with his grandfather in which I feel the negative reinforcement does not work. It is making my son not want to play anymore. Just because the child messes up alittle does not mean he will NEVER be anything at all. Not everyone can turn negative into positive especially 15 year old boys.

  4. Even if you’d rather watch paint dry. Don’t forget the colour of his team’s kit. Do stand with the correct group of parents. Do remember which way his team is shooting. Do not daydream. Do watch your son all the time. Do not miss his goals. Do not go for a nice long run – this is not a child free morning. Do not glaze over during the real time kick-by-kick post match analysis.
    Oh no. I hope my son doesn’t read your blog!

  5. Practical. Give up one hour of making capitalism work and spend it well with kids. The long-term effect of this will end up saving stress, money and creating a balance in life that’ll put buying a new car or flat screen into perspective

  6. Your post is uplifting and positive given the prevalence of so much negative behavior of late on the part of both players (NFL and high school) and more specific to your post, parents of these athletes. Most dismaying is the behavior of some of the parents (and football fans alike) of the recent NJ team players accused of hazing team mates, who are raging not against the incident their sons allegedly took part in, but rather the season being cancelled. “Model Good Adult Behavior” not. Hearing one mother explain that she couldn’t quite understand why her son could not play, and that “no one died” was difficult to comprehend, particularly when followed by applause. I am curious how you might edit this same letter to the parents of those players who feel the only crime here was in that their sons cannot play football.

  7. I want to thank you for your blog. I have a 16yr old son that is on the football team at the high school he attend. Being on the team really boast his courage and his self-esteem. I really don’t know too much about he game. I just cheer when my favorite team are winning. Again, thank you.

  8. Great post and well written advice for all sporting parents! It is important for so many people to recognize that sports are a part of learning and growing up, but are not life. As a former college athlete, I think a lot of people lose touch with this and don’t realize there are plenty of great opportunities that can come from the character that is built from sports. Just for fun, you should check out my post about the types of sport parents that are out there:

  9. As the mom of an (american) footballer, this is perfect! After practices and games as I’m driving my (non-driving yet) athlete home is the perfect time for him to vent and cry and be angry and be jubilant. I want him to know I’m his biggest fan and will fight for him if he wants me to, but mostly he just needs to know that I’m there and that I’ll listen. And Love him.

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