Don’t Do It

10 Things parents should NOT do.

  • Focus the majority of your conversations on soccer. If your conversations with your child are dominated by soccer then they will recognize how important it is to you, even if you say it isn’t. This creates pressure.
  • Tell your child their opponent is not good and they should beat them. Again, this sets up an expectation that you cannot fail. What happens when they get behind? The pressure heats up! Focus on effort, good decision making with tactics, improvement, fun, and being a good sport. Have them focus on their own game!
  • Coach your child from the sidelines. As much as you may know about the game allow the coach to do their job. Your coaching, unless well choreographed and based on what the coach is saying, will only serve to confuse and frustrate your child. They will have a hard time trusting what the coach is telling them to do.
  • Criticize your child or even give your analysis after the game. Allow your child some space to get over the game, calm down, and enjoy the time with their team and reflecting on their performance. You want your child to learn lessons from soccer, right? Well they will learn faster if you allow them to deal with it and then facilitate their ability to learn from the game and move on by asking questions and listening. Furthermore, your child knows when they have made a mistake. If not, the coach will instruct them – there is no need to pile on!
  • Treat your child differently dependent upon whether he or she won or lost (or how they performed). What message are we sending when after a win we go get ice cream and after a loss we go directly home? That when you lose you don’t deserve a treat – again, cranking up the importance and the pressure unintentionally. Be careful how you respond to your child after a game. Follow your post-game plans if possible. Maybe the dinner won’t be as happy after a bad performance, but you will be exhibiting to your child that their treatment and your support are not contingent upon their performance. Also, you will be teaching a good lesson about emotional control, learning to lose with class, and moving on from tough performances.
  • Allow soccer to dominate your child’s life. Why? It is good to have great passion and pursue lofty goals. No doubt. At the same time, you want your child to learn balance in life. They will someday have to juggle being a father/mother, husband/wife, employee, boss, etc. More immediately, it is healthy for your child to consider themselves more than athletes. They should see themselves as a good student, a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a friend… and treat these roles with the importance they deserve. Moreover, having other pursuits will allow them to deal with the frustrations of soccer, especially when they can no longer play the game that they love competitively.
  • Control all decision making relating to soccer. Teenagers want to have some say in their lives. They are looking to take more control. As a soccer parent you want to allow your child to make decisions about his or her commitment to playing soccer including the routines they need to follow to prepare for games as well as take care of homework and studying. If you control everything they will resent you for it.
  • Consider soccer as an investment for which you should receive something in return. With pay-to-play becoming ever more commonplace it is easy to fall into this trap. Parents make an investment in time, money, transportation as well as emotional investment. However, do your best to not make your child feel like they need to perform because of your investment. Let them know that you will happily do all of these things no matter how they perform.
  • Exert pressure to win. This is a no-brainer. When you, the parent, pressure to win you are creating an expectation that your child does not have complete control over. This expectation creates stress and negative emotion for the child. Again, focus on effort, sportsmanship, and things they can control. Then they can feel like a success in your eyes. Ultimately, that’s what every child longs for.
  • Put your interests ahead of your child’s interests. Go to games and encourage them. Listen to them discuss their triumphs and frustrations. And, always let them play for their own reasons not yours. Maybe you were an intense, driven athlete and maybe your child is not, and instead is happy with being a role player and spending time with his friends. It’s their life let them live it. 

There is a fine line here. You want to teach your child to commit to a goal and pursue it with hard work and dedication. However, if your child has not shown the intense interest in soccer and has not for some time, save your self and your child the pain. Instead, push on striving academically – in a positive way, of course.