The benefits to children participating in youth sports are countless and sports can provide parents an excellent opportunity to connect with their kids. But when parents cross the line from being encouraging and supportive, to over involved and obsessed, they could be doing more harm than good. Becoming too caught up and pushing too hard can have severe negative effects on your child that, according to Clinical Psychologist Abby Brewer-Johnson, can result in your child having problems with self-confidence, sense of self-worth and ultimately damage your relationship. Is there a chance you’ve become “that dad”?
8 Signs You Are An Overbearing Sports Dad
You are the loudest parent at your kids’ games. How do you know if your outgoing demeanor is having a negative effect on your kid? Brewer-Johnson says,“Look for subtleties; your child may avoid making eye contact with you during games or other parents may elect not to sit next to you.”
You secretly think your child might have what it takes to get a college scholarship. I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s very unlikely. According to the NCAA, of the eight million students playing high school athletics about 460,000 will play in college. The NCAA website breaks it down by sport. Of the 541,054 boys that play high school basketball, 3.4 % will go onto play in college. 1.2 % of those college players will be drafted in the NBA. If your child is good enough and motivated enough to make it that far, you’ll know.
You yell out instructions from the stands and criticize the coach. When your child doesn’t perform well you say something under your breath like, “if only this guy knew what he was doing, Johnny would play better.”
You sign your child up to play a sport because it’s the sport you played growing up. It’s natural for parents to want their children to be like them and there is nothing wrong with exposing them to your passions. But after that, it has to be their choice.
You talk about a game or a practice the minute your child gets into the car. Are you asking your child questions to make conversation or coaching them up? Most kids don’t want their parents’ advice right after a game. If they do, they’ll ask.
You reward your child with three scoops of ice cream for hitting a home run. We often place more value on our children’s athletic accomplishments than who they are as people. Instead of focusing on the home run, praise your son for showing humility after hitting it, or for supporting a teammate who struck out.
You take credit for your kids’ achievements. You say things like, “I taught him that.” “That’s the move we’ve been working on in the backyard.” There is a notion that if my kid is good, I’m good. Let your kid be your kid, and you, be you.
You’re in a bad mood if your child loses a game or has a poor performance and you get an emotional high when they win or excel. We all want our kids to win, but ironically it’s not what’s most important to our children. The things that bring my son the greatest joy at his baseball games are the hand slapping with his friends in the congratulatory high five line after the game, sliding in the dirt and the post-game snack.