While I previously discussed the critical role parents play in youth sports and their positive influences, I felt compelled to also address the negative side. As I’ve observed many instances of overbearing parenting, I feel it is important to address the proper way to push your child to his/her potential.
When a child is forced into a sport against his/her wishes, many emotional issues may arise such as stress, anxiety, depression, and even burnout. Not only is this incredibly detrimental to the child’s health, it also creates unnecessary strain in the family. Caught up in desire to see their child excel, parents often become blind to their child’s struggle or lack of interest.
In the end, the child will be unhappy and will develop negative resentment towards the sport - the complete opposite of what the the parents want. While parents desire happiness in their kids, forcing participation will produce the opposite effect.
Don’t get me wrong - parents should strongly encourage their children to participate in athletics. In fact, I feel children should be exposed at early age to everything from dance to tennis to karate to fencing. However, once a hint of boredom or disinterest is detected, it is time to consider taking a break or stopping completely.
I want my students to like skating and look forward to attending lessons. Having a positive attitude will not only help skaters stay motivated, it will also make their time on the ice much more enjoyable.
So here are my top tips for parents/skaters during lessons:
DO NOT COME TO THE RINK IF SKATER IS SICK!
I have has many students show up for lessons looking exhausted with stuffy noses, sore throats, and chronic coughing because their parents ignore their complains and assure me “they’re fine.” But this is completely counterproductive and honestly a waste of your own time and money. If a skater is not feeling well, he/she will be unable to focus and work hard.
My heart goes out to skaters who are miserable and can’t wait until the lesson is over and finally go home. I often have to put my foot down and cut the lesson short to do what is best for the child.
DO NOT YELL AND BERATE YOUR SKATER!
I often see parents standing near the boards trying to teach their child how to skate. It is true that this can be helpful when a skater is young and needs supervision and constant encouragement. HOWEVER, it becomes extremely discouraging and even embarrassing if the parent gets upset and yells at the skater. First of all, the parent should always remain positive and patient with his/her child. Parents fail to realize that while it may look easy, each move requires hours of practice and hard work. Many parents have never even skated themselves, so it really is not their place criticize. Skaters know what they need to practice so it is usually best to leave them on their own to teach themselves. Self-education allows children to take control over their learning which teaches patience and self-discipline.
For more info on the responsibilities of a skating parent, please visit https://usfigureskating.org/story?id=84149