How to most effectively cheer on your child in youth sports

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- For the most part, no parent wants to be “that” mom or dad. You know, the really loud one in the often intense world of youth sports. But then, you're on the sidelines, rooting for your kid and it just happens.

"As adults, we may have either played the sport or have watched it a lot on TV and we bring to those games all of that experience and we're trying to communicate that," said Proehlific Park Youth Program Director Stephanie Beaseley. "But it's distracting and confusing for the kids. I think it can make them really uncomfortable."

Even the seemingly simple and encouraging "Come on, you can do it!" may be more harmful than helpful, according to researchers with the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport. Researchers say that made the kids feel pressure and implied that the child wasn't trying their best.

"It can make the kids feel like they're not making their parents happy, for whatever reason. That can have far-reaching effects on their life, not just on the playing field," said Novant Health's Dr. Brooks Carter, a child psychiatrist. "If kids see parents behaving respectfully and controlling their behavior and emotions, they're going to grow up and do the same thing."

So how can parents best cheer on their kids? Dr. Carter says it's key for parents to cheer loudly about the good stuff, in regards to their kids and their teammates, and then keep quiet about the rest of it. Of course, that can be easier said than done though.

"That's when parents can make mental notes to themselves. Take a deep breath and notice all the good things you see. Your child is learning a game. He is making friends, learning how to play on a team. Then, if you feel that he wasn't trying his best, after the game, when you're not in the heat of it, calmly talk to your child. Ask them how they felt about the game, share all the good things you saw, then maybe mention an idea that may help next time," said Beaseley.

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