By Dr. Darrell Burnett
Don't yell out instructions.
During the game I'm trying to concentrate on what the coach says and working on what I've been practicing. It's easier for me to do my best if you save instructions and reminders for practice or just before the game.
Don't put down the officials.
This embarrasses me and I sometimes wonder whether the official is going to be tougher on me because my parents yell.
Don't yell at me in public.
It will just make things worse because I'll be upset, embarrassed, or worried that you're going to yell at me the next time I do something "wrong."
Don't yell at the coach.
When you yell about who gets to play what position, it just stirs things up and takes away from the fun.
Don't put down my teammates.
Don't make put-down remarks about any of my teammates who make mistakes. It takes away from our team spirit.
Don't put down the other team.
When you do this you're not giving us a very good example of sportsmanship so we get mixed messages about being "good sports."
Don't lose your cool.
I love to see you excited about the game, but there's no reason to get so upset that you lose your temper! It's our game and all the attention is supposed to be on us.
Don't lecture me about mistakes after the game.
Those rides home in the car after the game are not a good time for lectures about how I messed up -- I already feel bad. We can talk later, but please stay calm, and don't forget to mention things I did well during the game!
Don't forget how to laugh and have fun.
Sometimes it's hard for me to relax and have fun during the game when I look over and see you so tense and worried.
Don't forget that it's just a game!
Odds are, I'm not going to make a career out of playing sports. I know I may get upset if we lose, but I also know that I'm usually feeling better after we go get a pizza. I need to be reminded sometimes that it's just a game.
Dr. Darrell Burnett is a clinical psychologist and a certified sports psychologist specializing in youth sports. He has been in private practice for 25+ years in Laguna Niguel, California. His book, IT'S JUST A GAME! (Youth, Sports, & Self Esteem: A Guide for Parents), can be purchased on Amazon, along with his other books, booklets and CDs on youth sports and family life.