Sports Parents Play Critical Roles in Boosting Kids' Confidence

By Dr. Patrick Cohn

I grew up in a sports-crazed family with five kids.Thirty years ago, when I played football, hockey, golf, and lacrosse year round, our dad was an enthusiastic sports parent. He often implored us to play harder and live up to our abilities. He was quick to express his frustration with referees and coaches.

Our dad was so into our games, he couldn't restrain himself. That was both good and bad for the five of us. We liked all the attention, but often felt pressured to perform better - and better!

Now that I am a sports parent myself to two children, I understand just how difficult it is for parents-like my dad-to figure out how best to support and help their kids in sports. And as a leading sports psychology expert, I've been studying this issue for many years.

Sports parents today have many tough questions to ponder: Should you push kids to try harder in sports when you know they have the athletic ability? What do you say or do after your child or teen's crushing defeat?

What to do if your daughter worries constantly about what others think of her sports performance? How do you behave on the sidelines when you're frustrated with coaches or referees? These are hard questions, and the answers aren't always obvious.

As a sports parent or youth sports coach, you have an important impact on your kids in sports. Your support and communication can help kids improve their confidence and success in sports.

You need to be there to help kids weather the ups and downs of athletics. Young athletes who are pushed too hard and experience negative coaching are more likely to drop out of sports altogether. It's your job to evaluate and communicate with their coaches in ways that ensure your athletes' confidence is boosted-not crushed. What's more, it's your job be as positive as possible and to focus on fun. When kids are having fun, they also feel confident.

Award winning parenting writer Lisa Cohn and Youth Sports Psychology expert Dr. Patrick Cohn are co-founders of The Ultimate Sports Parent. Pick up their free e-book, "Ten Tips to Improve Confidence and Success in Young Athletes" by visiting


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