Partnering with parents
Parents have a strong influence on the mindset of a child and on a child's values and beliefs. For this reason, I am incredibly excited yet scared to be a parent myself. Considering parenthood is probably not in my near future, I consider it an opportunity to contemplate how to help raise my child and encourage a healthy mindset about effort and attitude. Additionally, I think it is very important for me as a coach to attempt to relate to parent's perspectives and to learn effective strategies for informing parents of appropriate etiquette and support for their child in their sport. According to Minnesota PLAYS, it may be enough for parents to know how their behavior could affect their child's future and to know what their child wants or needs from them to eliminate a lot of violent and inappropriate parent behavior in athletics, and to support a child in a developmentally appropriate manner (Omli, 2008, p.30).
After watching the FA video guide for soccer, I was appalled by the father's behavior, yet sympathetic to the fact that I know the father just wants what is best for his son. The father has high expectations, which could be viewed as setting his child up for the self fulfilled prophecy principle. He fails to acknowledge, however, that his son is only eight years old and needs an environment where he can be encouraged to develop his skills and have a positive athletic experience. The child, Billy, shared his perspective of his father's reaction, and at one point says, "I think my dad thinks I should be better than I am. I think my dad likes fútbol more than I do." I wonder, however, if the child does love fútbol more than his father, for he is not concerned with winning and losing, but merely enjoys his sport and playing it because of his intrinsic love for it. If his dad didn't care so much, the child would probably enjoy his experience more and probably develop more skills because he will not have so much pressure to perform. It seems like Billy's father is quickly eliminating his intrinsic motivation and replacing it with a drive to perform well to please his father.
Parents not only influence a child's definition of success and failure and what motivates them, but also influence a child's behavior. Parent's behavior influences a child's behavior. For example, in the video after the father yelled at the ref, Billy stated in his interview that the ref was unfair. Had the father not yelled at the ref, I wonder if Billy would have such a perception. The attitude and behavior of a parent influence a child's behavior.
While it is so difficult to compose yourself as a parent on the sidelines, I doubt that parents realize the impact they have on their child. As a coach, I plan to share resources such as the brochure called, "Parent's Guide to improving youth sports." This brochure reminds me of the program Minnesota PLAYS, which promotes parent education for youth sports. Parents certainly do not intend to hurt their child's experience, but has been uninformed as to what their role should be and how it contributes to development. The brochure specifies a parent's role and provides specific statements and behaviors that can promote lifelong athletic enjoyment and commitment. The brochure provides a reality check for parents to consider their motivation in encouraging their child to play sports. They provide statistics of the number of athletes that actually have an athletic scholarship and remind parents that it is unrealistic and irrational to encourage and motivate your child to play so that they can play in college. Not only is it unrealistic, but such pressure decreases a child's intrinsic motivation to play sport and replaces it with less self determined motivation, and puts a child at risk for burnout and quitting.
Although the brochure emphasizes helping parents to promote a healthy attitude about athletics and stating that it is better to have a well rounded person and to focus should be on development, I imagine that parents believe that their child is different. Also, I imagine that they believe that a "well rounded and positive experience" attitude is for those that don't desire to perform well or compete at a high level. I think the brochure should cite specific sources which point to evidence of optimal performance when experience, performance and development are all balanced (Vealey, 2005). The brochure does state that studies show that there is a higher rate of burnout for those that play in a single sport all year long. Perhaps, more evidence on the positive effect of a balanced perspective will motivate parents to believe that it really is best for their child and is even beneficial for their child's performance and long term health.
The coach does have a responsibility to respectfully communicate with parents and to partner with parents. As we saw in the video, parents have a major influence on their child, and it is to the advantage of the coach to share his or her philosophy and "get parents on board" with the focus on a balance of development, experience and performance. I do not have the experience of being a parent, nor the experience of coaching, and therefore plan to find a mentor who can share ideas for how to partner with parents and yet communicate that parents and coaches have distinct roles. (Anderson, p.71, 2006). I look forward to creatively developing partnership with parents and hopefully being a transformative leader by challenging parents to "alter their frames of reference or way of thinking so as to produce profound shifts in their perceptions and ways of being, living and responding," by encouraging them to consider what really motivates their child, how to praise their child, and how to play the role of a supportive parent (Vealey, p.76, 2005).
Anderson & Aberman (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit. Monterey, CA: Coaches Choice
The FA Parent Guide. www.thefa.com/respectparentguide/.
Omli, J., LaVoi, N.M., Wiese-Bjornstal, D. (2008). Towards an understanding of parent spectator
behavior at youth sport events. Journal of Youth Sports,3(2), 30-33.
The FA Parent Guide. www.thefa.com/respectparentguide/.
Through a Child's Eyes: Parents' Guide to Improving Youth Sports. http://www.sportsmanship.
Vealey, R. (2005). Coaching for the Inner Edge. Morgantown, VW: Fitness Information