Home » Successful Sports Parenting Channel » Game Day Center » Sideline Behavior » Good Sideline Behavior By Parents Sets Right Example for Children

Good Sideline Behavior By Parents Sets Right Example for Children

Exhibit Good Sportsmanship and Have Fun

Nearly seven in ten 9- to 15-year olds in a recent study said they had seen a fan angrily yell at an official. Three quarters of the parents and coaches questioned in the same survey said they had witnessed such unacceptable and verbally abusive behavior as well.

Such behavior can negatively affect all the players. If you are supportive and positive in everything you say and do, it will spill over to all the kids, on both sides of the field. Don't view the other team as the enemy. Talk to parents in the stands from the other team. Congratulate any player who makes a good play. If children see their parents in friendly conversation with parents from the visiting team, they will be getting a very important message: that the game isn't such a life or death, kill-or-be-killed affair that parents can't exhibit good sportsmanship. If your kids see you having fun on the sideline, instead of grimly pacing up and down like an NFL coach in the fourth quarter of a playoff game, they will keep the game in perspective and realize that they can be good sports and have fun too!

Whatever you do, don't condone poor sportsmanship. If a coach goes nuts over a referee's call and is ejected, don't cheer him when he goes into a Bobby Knight-like rage, kicks an equipment bag and instead of turning the coaching reins over to his assistant coach leads the entire team off the field or court, forfeiting the game. If we as parents lose our perspective, we can't expect anyone else - least of all our children - to keep theirs. As parents we are our children's last line of defense when it comes to teaching them proper sportsmanship.

Thank the officials

Most youth sports officials regard parent abuse as the most stressful and negative aspect of officiating, one that is driving many to quit officiating. Resist the urge to criticize the officials. Instead, take time at the end of the contest to thank them and compliment them for their hard work.

If you thank the officials, you will, as I often was, be rewarded with a surprised smile and some interesting observations about your child's team. Such expressions of gratitude go a long way to motivating officials to continue officiating and handle the inevitable criticisms by coaches, parents and players. Remember, most are volunteers and, often, young people themselves.

Adapted from the book, Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports (HarperCollins 2006) by Brooke de Lench, founder and Editor-in-Chief of MomsTeam.com.


Now Available in KINDLE