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Frank Smoll discusses parents as role models in youth sports in this Psychology Today post.

Misbehaving Parents Can Ruin Youth Sports

Parents must be able to demonstrate self-control.

Frank L. Smoll Ph.D.
Coaching and Parenting Young Athletes

Parents are significant role models for their children in all aspects of life, including sports. When parents yell at or criticize athletes, coaches, or officials, they set an incredibly poor example. It’s not surprising to find that parents who exhibit poor self-control in their own lives often have children who are prone to emotional outbursts and poor self-discipline. If parents are to expect sportsmanship and self-control from their children, they need to exhibit the same qualities in their own behavior.

Although they may appear totally engrossed in the competition, many children are very sensitive to what’s being said from the stands. Laughing or poking fun at an athlete who makes a mistake may inject some humor for the spectators, but it may be heartbreaking for the child. Likewise, "bench jockeying," or attempts to rattle the opposition, is inappropriate in youth sports.

It’s easy to get caught up in the action of the competition and to suddenly find yourself verbally participating. Parents should never shout criticism or instruction at their children. This applies also to teammates and opponents. If parents wish to shout encouragement or praise, codes of sportsmanship dictate that recognition be given to other athletes (including opponents) as well. There’s no reason why a great play or a great effort made by the opposition shouldn’t also be appreciated.

Children are not the only ones who are the targets of barbed comments. Some parents seem to forget that youth sports programs could not exist without coaches and officials who give unselfishly of their time and energy. They deserve respect and support, and they should be treated with dignity. As tempting as it may be, it’s simply not appropriate to second-guess, yell instructions, or disagree with decisions made by the coach.

Read the entire article here .