Parenting has changed since I grew up, and certainly since my parents were growing up. Kids can get away with more and more, and the side-effects of this in the sports world are not good at all. Sports are a great way to teach kids about life at a young age; they are not about creating superstars with a sense of entitlement.
If you think it's about bragging rights
I had a sales job where I helped families with NCAA recruiting, and the one thing that was incredible to hear is what parents thought of their kids as athletes. It did not matter what the stats said, the parents saw their children as a bragging right. It was as if they were merely a trophy the parents had earned.
Have you ever heard stories where a talented kid decides to quit a sport out of nowhere? This happens because they get tired of having to earn their parents' love through their play. The game is not fun anymore because it becomes less about them and more about their parents.
The point of the game is to teach your kid to take both the high and the lows in stride. Don't let the lows get you too low, or the highs get you too high. An athlete cannot learn this by being a "trophy" for their parents, because winning becomes everything. The issue with this is you don't always succeed in life.
Do you preach to your kids to be humble, but brag about them every chance that you get?
When they do well, does it make you happier than it makes them?
Do you get more upset than they do when losing?
Parents set the tone for kids when it comes to how they approach sports and what they learn from participating.
If you miss the real lessons
Both of my parents were involved in my football and track and field career growing up. When I made the Olympic team with my brother, many people asked them if they were proud. That bothered my parents because they were proud of us, but it was not because we made the Olympic team. They were proud because of the people we became chasing after our dream.
These were some of the things that my brother and I had developed during our years of athletic training. That is what my parents were proud of, because with those traits we could accomplish much more than just running fast.
Parents should never lose sight of what their kids are learning as they play sports. I had years of coaching football where the team was three to seven and just awful. In those years I learned more about myself than I ever did playing on good teams. Make sure your kids finish what they start, no matter how unfavourable it is.
What have you told your child success means in sport?
How have you prepared them for losing?
What is the lesson they are currently focusing on?
If you don't think health matters
Some parents are willing to spend thousands of dollars for their kid to play a sport but won't pay $40 for them to get treatment, and it makes no sense at all. Injuries are a part of sports, especially when you do nothing at all to prevent them.
It is not alright to just tell your kid to suck it up. Signing your child up for a sport means that you are willing to take the risk that they could get hurt. Before I even got to college, I suffered a broken leg with two surgeries, pulled a groin and I fractured my L5. Luckily my parents understood that part of being signed up for this means being willing to help me stay healthy and they invested in my body.
I realized growing up how many athletes don't report injuries because they think that they will not be listened to by their coaches or parents. They were told a lie, and that is that you need to try and suck it up through all of your injuries.
Sucking it up is not a winning strategy. FIXT is about allowing athletes to ask their injury questions anonymously so they can get an answer from therapists without judgment or risk. Encourage your child to do this and to speak with you about their problems.
Minor injuries occur weekly and sometimes daily, how often does your kid tell you about them?
What is your response when they say they are hurt?
If you won't pay for them to stay healthy why are you willing for them to play a sport?
You set an example
Parents set the tone for kids when it comes to how they approach sports and what they learn from participating. My hope is that by reading this, I have made you ask yourself at least one question that you did not like the answer to. If you did not like any answers, that means you have some ways you can improve sports for your child. If you liked your answers, thank you for being one of the parents that have not lost sight of the purpose of sport.
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