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Parent Involvement

Parent Involvement*

Parents play an important role in youth sports. Sports are the most prevalent organized after-school activity for 22 million youth ages 5 to 17 in the United States. Another 21 million children are involved in school athletics or organized weekend sports activities.

Sports can be a fun and engaging way for children and youth to learn some important lessons about life. Participating in sports can foster responsible social behaviors, greater academic success, and an appreciation for health and fitness. Participating on a team can also give children a sense of belonging that they need.

What can you do as a parent?

Respect your child’s need for knowledge.
Take time to learn about youth development. Are your expectations to high or too low? Focus on effort and skills learned rather than on winning and losing.

Be careful not to push your thoughts, ideas, and dreams onto your child.
Make an effort to listen to what your child is saying, and meet his/her needs.

Remember that sports are primarily an opportunity to learn and have fun.
Most children will not grow up to be professional athletes as few children possess the talent or desire to play competitive sports at the highest level.

Questions to ask yourself before your child commits to a sport.
Parents should consider and understand their child’s developmental level, interest in a particular sport, skills or talents, and emotional and physical needs before making the commitment to enroll your child in a sports organization or program. Here are some questions to ask:

  • How many practices and games per week are there?
  • How long does the season last?
  • Who provides transportation? Is there carpooling?
  • What are my (our) responsibilities?
  • Will my child be penalized for missing practices or games if we are on a family vacation?
  • Do practices and game schedules interfere with dinnertime, schoolwork, church, or other events in our family?
  • Does the program have a written statement of goals and philosophy that is available to the parents? If so, are they compatible with my family goals and values?
  • Does the league emphasize giving all children an opportunity to play?
  • Is everyone, including less skilled players, treated fairly?
  • Are the players taught proper sportsmanship?
  • Is the league ultra-competitive? Are children taught to win at all costs or to focus on self-improvement and having fun?

Remember that from 6 to 12 years of age, children should have opportunities to be in different sports. Concentrating on one sport is not appropriate in terms of physical and cognitive development.

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