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Blog: Don’t Make Team Sports a Bad Experience for Your Child

By Dr. Laura on October, 16 2023
Group of young boys place hands on top of one another while in a team huddle

Every parent wants their child to succeed when playing a team sport. Maybe it means winning the regional championships, scoring the victory point or even reaching the Olympics.


I recently spoke to Tim about his preteens who participate in competitive soccer. He noticed they didn't seem happy to play.

Tim: My wife and I feel that we're either setting up our kids for a great future or we're completely screwing them up emotionally. We just spend so much money and time on all this.

Dr. Laura: Why would you think something so bizarre as a team sport is screwing them up?  

Tim: It probably had to do something with my insecurity about how I treat them and the expectations that we're putting on them.


Parental expectations are the reason why callers complain about their children not enjoying themselves while playing a sport. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize team sports are not the problem. You are. 


Dr. Laura's Deep Dive - The Tumultuous Teen Years - Play Now


Change Your Outlook

What is the right kind of expectation a parent should have for their child in sports? Many parents put a lot of personal time and money into their kids’ sports participation. It seems natural that they would feel that their child should constantly show the same level of commitment.


First, remember that your children are just that: children! They are not all preparing for pro-level sports careers. Most of the kids just like the camaraderie, competition, exercise and distraction from school and home responsibilities.  


Know Yor Place 

It's not your job to criticize, critique or correct. That's what coaches are for. You're there to elevate your kid’s spirit. Consider listing five things they did great on the field and saying, “Whoa, it was really cool to see you kick the ball, and your teammate caught it. I loved watching that!” Wouldn’t you like to hear that in their place?


Your role is to be a proud, supportive and sympathetic parent on a bad day, but never critical. You’re there to create a bond between your child and yourself that isn't filled with fear and resentment. I wish more people had that experience growing up.


Trust me, you will be much more relaxed and happier after making these changes.

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