22 Dec Parents, Stop Berating Your Child On The Sidelines
“Why are you taking an hour lunch break?!”
“Turn your proposal in on time!”
“Be more productive!”
“Stop scrolling Facebook and pretending like you’re working!”
“Pay your taxes!”
“Get back in your cubicle and do your job!”
Imagine if kids stood on the sidelines at our work and pestered, berated, and scolded us.
We’d not only be furious, but we’d be downright defeated.
I mean come on, do you really think we’d do our jobs better, with more energy, and more passion and creativity if someone were scrutinizing our every move?
I think not.
So the next time you yell at your kid at their U8 scrimmage, put yourself in their shoes.
Do they feel motivated when you yell, “oh come on! What was that?!”
Do they feel energized when you scream, “what the hell?!”
Do they feel empowered when you say, “stop being lazy!”
As constructive as you think you’re being, you’re destroying their confidence and love for the game.
Additionally, you’re taking them out of the present moment when they should be fully immersed in a blissful state of flow.
Youth sports, to that end, should be liberating, not taxing.
They should be enjoyable, not full of burden.
They should be fun, not packed with harsh demands.
For one, this ain’t the World Cup. There isn’t much on the line, except bragging rights to the parents you just met on the sidelines.
So why all the yelling?
No, like actually, do some self reflection.
Sure, this may require you to dive into uncomfortable self awareness, gut wrenching past traumas, or ego-driven pursuits, but really, ask yourself why do you have expectations like this for your child?
If you are a hurt human being, that is okay. We all have traumas and past issues that we project onto our children. But look: we all need to be aware of them.
And do better. (HERE is an article on self awareness and why it is critical for coaching and personal development).
But. There needs to be improvement on your end.
So if you really want to get your child to up their performance, does the yelling help in the end?
Does making cold statements and hurtful demands make them play harder, or execute their skills better?
Or is this all counterproductive?
Does this all send your kid home with more confidence, or with more self doubt?
Seriously, ask yourself.
Examine your traumas.
Check your ego.
Be realistic with your unrealistic expectations.
Once you realize you’re hindering more than helping your child with your hurtful comments, instead of scolding them, how about asking them reflective questions instead?
Instead of saying something so incredibly soul stabbing during the game when your kid is making 1,000 decisions a second with their itty, bitty brain, ask them well after the game is over, ‘hey, how do you think you did today?’
What this does is two things:
1. They can play the game without the added distraction and noise so they can make better decisions on the pitch, and…
2. They can reflect on their own, with autonomy, and feel more in their power when they find their own answers.
3. Thus, this makes them feel more independent and empowered.
And more often than not, these questions of reflection should occur way after the game ends.
So instead of saying, “you need to work harder!” ask them the next day, ‘how do you feel your effort was?’
Instead of saying, “what the hell are you doing?!” ask them the next day, ‘what do you think you did well today and what do you want to do better next game?’
Reflection is key.
And ensuring kids have a safe place to reflect on their efforts without judgement is critical for their own self awareness.
Or, on the flip side, not saying anything is fine, too. But if you are feeling the urge to say something, asking questions bodes well. And be there with empathy, an ear, and a full heart.
Aka, just be a kind human being.
Admittedly, I can’t think of one positive that comes from yelling something degrading to your kid on the sidelines.
Several things happen when you do so:
1. You make them frantic and nervous.
2. Their playing (most of the time) doesn’t get better anyway.
3. Or they play worse.
4. You are the designated sideline jerk and bad guy in town.
5. No one likes you. Period.
You see, this all becomes a lose-lose-lose-lose-lose.
Yeah. Don’t be that guy.
Rather, be the one who empowers your kid, who makes them believe in themselves, and who gives them the independence to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses.
After all, these are life skills. For kids to learn self reflection, to learn what areas they need to improve, and to learn to take action and be autonomous.
Not once did my mom yell at me as a young athlete. Rather, she inspired me to reflect on my behaviors, and she asked me tough questions to create meaningful change in my life.
And now today, does she yell at me to write over 600 blog articles on youth training?
Does she scold me to go to the gym every day?
Does she demand I write a book on youth fitness?
I did it all on my own, baby! Thank you, mom.
So ensure your kids think for themselves, and are confident to do so.
Stop berating on the sidelines. You’re being counterproductive and degrading.
And a moron.
For empowering physical and mental training for youth soccer players, get Total Youth Soccer Fitness HERE.