As I was writing my blog post a couple of weeks ago on the critical role parents play in youth sports and the positive influences they can have, I felt compelled to also address the negative impacts of parent involvement in sports. I feel it’s a relevant subject that most definitely deserves increased attention as I’ve observed many instances and also experienced first hand how parents can have a negative impact on their child.
When parents push their child to participate in sports against their wishes, it could negatively impact a child’s emotional development by making him/her stress, anxious, withdrawn, depressed, and even burnout. It also places strain on the parent/child relationship. Oftentimes, parents are blind to see that their child has no interest or is not enjoying or has no talent to be pushed too far.
In the end, the child will not enjoy and will lose interest and develop a negative resentment towards the sport which is the complete opposite of what the parent wants!!! The one thing parents always strive for their kids is to be happy yet when you force the child to participate, the child will end up resenting not only the sport but the parent as well! Please it’s not about the parent’s ego!
Don’t get me wrong - parents should strongly encourage their children to play all types of sports. In fact, I feel they should have their children be exposed at early age to everything from dance to tennis to karate to fencing. BUT once parents see that their child is bored and becomse disinterested then that’s the time to consider stopping and taking a break from the sport.
I want my students to enjoy skating and have a positive experience. I want them to look forward to coming to lessons and practice. Having a positive attitude is important because I strongly feel it will only help them be more motivated and work harder and have more fun learning.
So here are my top tips for parents/skaters during lesson and practice session-
DO NOT COME TO THE RINK IF SKATER IS SICK!
I have students that show up for lessons when they look so tired or have runny/congested nose or throat pain or coughing because their parents ignore their complaints and say ‘they’re fine’ and push them to come. But the parent doesn’t know exactly how the child feels?!#$?! …and if the child already is not feeling well then I ask how does skating help make them feel better when the child has to pay close attention and work hard in my lesson? Practice will make them feel even worse!
Also, if your child is taking over the counter medications, ie. decongestant products containing pseudoephedrine, while exercising then it may pose a health risk and need to check with your doctor. One’s heart rate is already elevated during exercise so when one takes a stimulant-type medication it may increase the heart rate even more.
I feel so baldy for the child who looks so miserable and can’t wait until lesson is over so he/she can go home and rest. There are times when I can’t even last entire session and I have to cut the lesson short because I feel it’s unproductive and the child is unhappy.
DO NOT YELL AND BERATE YOUR SKATER!
Oftentimes, I see parents stand near the boards trying to teach their child how to skate. It can be helpful especially if the skater is young and needs supervision and/or direction. HOWEVER, it’s extremely discouraging and even embarrassing if the parent gets upset and'/or yells at the skater if he/she can not perform the move correctly. The parent should always remain positive and supportive and be patient with his/her child. I tell everyone it may look easy on the ice but it really requires hours of practice and hard work to make it look that effortless. Skaters know what they need to practice and I feel that it’s best to leave them on their own so they can learn and teach themselves. Self-education allows children to take control over their learning and I feel can be a very valuable learning technique because it teaches them self-discipline .
I was fortunate that my mom rarely stood near the rink door and direct me what to do. Ever since I started skating at a young age, I was always very focused and disciplined because I really wanted to learn and excel so I worked hard every moment I was on the ice. I did not require my mom to stand and watch over me. In fact, I wished my mom had watched me more- even during my teen years, I actually have to beg her to come in and watch me because I like to show off my progress and I love the support and praise she gives me.
For more info on the responsibilities of a skating parent, please visit https://usfigureskating.org/story?id=84149