If you parent a child in a competitive sport, you’ve no doubt been witness to a variety of “sideline parents.” We’re all there to cheer on and support our kids – but some people just do it with a bit more… shall we say “flair.” Have you witnessed the:
It’s great to teach your child to have a competitive edge – but the “competitor” sideline parent takes it a bit further. You know the one – yelling at the top of their lungs for their three year-old to take out the other team’s players in their quest for ultimate domination of that soccer field.
We all want our kids to succeed – but there’s a difference between rooting for them and rooting vicariously through them. The latter tends to push into the competitive sideliner – and it can happen without you even realizing it. One minute you’re cheering for your kid as they’re running with the ball on their way to score; the next the ball gets taken. How do you react?
If you hear someone screaming (verging on lunacy), often with large hand motions, you may be witnessing a “Competitor” in the making. It’s a slippery slope.
One of the best parent perks to your kids participating in extracurriculars is getting to build your tribe and make new mom (parent) friends. But the “socializer” takes chatting parents up to another level. Not only does “Betty” say hi and start catching up – but she corrals you into a corner, somehow managing to pull a few others in in the process – and is now dominating the conversation while managing to block your view of your child’s activity and refusing to let you escape.
Yes, absolutely make parent friends – it’s a great way to build your own network and deepen your child’s relationships and connections to their activity. But if you find yourself at the match loudly dominating a conversation with your friends’ eyes dodging around you, consider taking a step back – and instead, check their calendars for a night out where you can catch up in full.
The counterpoint to the “competitor,” the “peacemaker” wants their kid to participate in sports, but without ever experiencing or inflicting physical contact. Easily identified by loud whispers of “share the ball!” or “careful!,” the peacemaker has good intentions – but likely ends up being a nervous wreck most of the game.
If you’re the peacemaker, take a deep breath and remember that sports are competitive and that playing hard is part of the game. Good sportsmanship is important, but the other players are not out there trying to make friends with your snowflake: they’re trying to win. Encourage your child to do the same – they’ll build up their confidence and bond in the process.
If you hear or see the peacemaker, try to engage them in conversation. Not to “socializer” levels – but casual conversation to help calm them and trade stories from the trenches.
Never had the honor of witnessing one of these extreme sideline parents? Careful – it may be you! Maybe you have been each of these types of parents at one point or the other, but the important thing to remember about youth sport is that it is for the children!