It can be tough to parent a young athlete. Sports can be physically and mentally demanding, and highly competitive. Coaches are a huge influence on children, but parents play a vital role in the success of youth athletes. Today I’m sharing five tips to help make your child’s sports season go smoother for both you and your child.
My son, Gabe, is just five years old. He is a very active little boy and loves to play sports. He’s been involved with soccer since he was three, he played in basketball and baseball leagues for the first time this year, and most recently joined a football team in the local youth football association. We have a very busy schedule, but I feel it’s important for him to learn to play well with others; it is especially important since he’s an only child. Involvement in group activities such as sports can promote leadership skills, physical fitness, teamwork, and sportsmanship.
Here are my five tips for parenting young athletes:
- Don’t force a child to play a sport just because it’s what you want them to play. You can encourage them to play a sport, but you can’t make them like it. Recently I witnessed a 6 year old repeatedly beg his parents to let him quit football at nearly every single practice. It was heartbreaking to watch him cry, and it isn’t fair to the children that want to play. Offer your child options for activities, and help them make a decision. If they try out a sport and they don’t like it, encourage them to continue for a practice or two. If the behavior continues, it may be best to cut your losses. It might discourage them from trying other sports if they feel like they are being punished for not playing the sport you chose for them.
- Don’t be afraid to be involved with your child’s team. Learn the rules of the game, and ask lots of questions. It’s much easier to help and encourage your child during practice and game play if you understand what’s going on.
- Being involved with a sports team is physically demanding. You need to make sure that your little athlete is getting enough sleep at night. You don’t want them to be tired at school the following day. Little bodies need ample time to grow and recover. This can be tough to manage when you have practice several times a week or have weeknight games. It is important to create a schedule and stick to it.
- Encourage and promote good sportsmanship. You should praise your child for a job well done, and they should help encourage their teammates. Simple acts such as helping up a fallen teammate or encouraging a discouraged teammate can help build camaraderie. These skills will be useful off the playing field and throughout your child’s life. Do not let your little player become discouraged with losses or points scored. Good youth leagues should primarily focus on aspects of teamwork and player skill development in primary aged players. How they play the game is more important than wins or losses.
- Try to encourage your child to eat a balanced diet. Young athletes need the daily recommended mix of proteins, carbohydrates, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. Products such as DairyPure milk can provide calcium to help build strong bones. Sports are physically demanding, and physical injury is a risk. Helping your child develop good eating habits can improve physical condition, sports performance, and help to prevent injury.
This is in no way a comprehensive list; rather, these are just a few ideas to help you improve your child’s experience with athletics. Whether it’s their very first season playing a sport, or you have an athletic prodigy who is playing multiple sports that they’ve played before, it’s always a good idea to sit back and reflect on what’s really important. Sports can help to prepare them for life, and you can help prepare them to excel in their athletics with a strong balanced diet. Growing bones need lots of Calcium, so I’m glad that Gabe is a big fan of milk–even without the chocolate. I make it a point to buy products that are sustainable and safe, which is why I like DairyPure milk.
DairyPure milk is backed by the 5 point purity promise:
- No artificial growth hormones *“No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from cows treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST and non‐rbST‐treated cows.”
- All milk is tested for antibiotics
- Continuously quality tested to ensure purity
- Only from cows fed a healthy diet
- Cold shipped fresh from your local dairy
What tips do you have for making youth athletics a positive experience for you and your children?