Sean Cumming and Martha Ewing of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports warned against parents becoming over-involved emotionally.  This could mean being “excitable” or “fanatical.”  They even go as far as to say that the fanatical parent can pose a serious risk to the development of the child (1).  Take a moment to reflect on your own behavior during your child’s sporting events.  How do you compare?

Characteristics of Excitable and Fanatical Sports Parents


The Excitable Parent (1)
The Fanatical Parent (1)
Supportive You put great amounts of pressure on your child to succeed
You find yourself getting caught up in the heat of the moment Your children frequently argue with the coach or ref
At games you yell out instructions to anyone and everyone on the field Your children do not put much effort into or show enjoyment of practice
You rush out onto the field at the slightest hint of injury to your child You are controlling and confrontational
  You are overly concerned with the outcome of the game
  The reason you have your kids in sports is to win trophies
  Your child will definitely make the pros


In contrast to the emotionally over-involved parent is the authoritative parent.  Research into different parenting styles has revealed that the authoritative parenting style seems to be the most successful (2).  Here are some characteristics of an authoritative sports parent.

Characteristics of An Authoritative Sports Parent


The Authoritative Sports Parent (2)
Encourage participation
Get involved in your child’s participation by attending games and providing positive encouragement
Support values of fair play and sportsmanship
Set Developmentally appropriate goals for your child’s performance, as opposed to unrealistic ones
Support values of discipline and commitment as they relate to practice



(1) Cumming, S. P. & Ewing, M. E. (2002 Spring). Parental involvement in youth sports: The good, the bad and the ugly! Spotlight on Youth Sports, 26(1), 1-5.

(2) Kanters, M., Estes, C. A. (2002). Parents and youth sports. Parks & Recreation, 37(12), 20-27. Retrieved August 5, 2003 from Academic Search Premier database.



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