As parents, we want what’s best for our children, and we also want our children to give it their best when they participate in extra-curricular sports and activities. The problem is, we sometimes get caught up in our desire to see our children perform well and we speak up at the wrong times. With that said, I’ve put together some details about how coaching from the sidelines plays a harmful role in our child’s emotional development.
(Please note as it relates to this article, I’m focusing on a martial arts parent because that’s the environment I’m an expert at when it comes to this topic. However, this information is easily related to other sports and activities.)
For starters: your child’s brain is already occupied with so many thoughts. Take a sparring match for example:• Which technique should I throw?• What technique is my opponent going to throw? • What if I get hit? • What did my instructor just say? • What did my classmate just say?• What did my parent just say?• Was that other parent talking to me?• What are the rules about hitting the head again? • What if I miss?• What is the score? • How much time do I have left?
You can imagine this a lot to think about, and when your parent is yelling at you, chances are the emotional cup will run over!
How about a simple class where your child is learning a new Self Defense technique? Here’s what’s going on in your child’s mind:• What move is next?• Is it my left hand, right hand, left foot, right foot?• What did my instructor just say?• What did my parent just say?• What will my classmates think if I make a mistake? • What will my instructor think if I make a mistake?• What will my parents think if I make a mistake?• How many moves do I have left?
Again, there’s a lot of ‘movement’ going on with your child’s neurons, and your coaching from the sidelines, be it positive or negative, could make your child’s emotional stability fall off balance.
But let’s not forget that your coaching is a distraction to other people besides just your child:• It distracts the other students.• It distracts other parents.• It distracts the instructors.
So, although you have good intentions with coaching from the sidelines, there are more productive options:• Give your child tips and encouragement before class or competition. • Remain silent unless you see your child look to you for advice or support. • Provide constructive feedback after class or competition.
Hopefully this article sheds some light on coaching from the sidelines, and prompts you to take more constructive steps towards your child’s performance in extra-curricular sports and activities. The goal should be to help foster growth and development, as well as encourage the fun out of it. After all, it’s the great memories that last a lifetime.
- John Gabriele