Should you be a Pushy or Supportive Sporting Parent?

August 12, 2016 Published by

Recently, a video doing the rounds on Facebook caught my attention...

This will easily be the greatest Olympic team of all-time.

Posted by Fatherly on Friday, 5 August 2016

Pushy Parent Cheering ChildThis impressive display of sporting talent from very young children is entertaining, inspiring and yes strangely unnerving. But the reason it piqued by interest is my concern about what this sort of post does for children who aren’t prodigies by the time they are five? Does this encourage parents to push their children to practice morning, noon and night to match these talents? Or does it deter parents from supporting their children’s sporting ambitions because they think Olympic success is not an option?

It can be difficult for parents to know what to encourage or whether they should gently (or not so gently) push children to a certain level of sport. Especially when there are all sorts of parental competitions going on in the playground about the level their child has achieved.

My advice to parents in this situation would be to make sure hobbies and sport are enjoyed by your child and not being encouraged because of anyone else’s unfulfilled dream. Your job then is to support and encourage children in developing their skills and learning the sport, but being careful not to put ideas of anything other than fun and enjoyment into their heads unless they are being selected for top level teams or entered for competitions in older age groups. It’s only at this point that the discipline and commitment to the sport can bring rewards, and you won't get that commitment if a child doesn’t really enjoy the sport or feels pushed into it in the first place.

"My advice to parents in this situation would be to make sure hobbies and sport are enjoyed by your child and not being encouraged because of anyone else’s unfulfilled dream."

There are huge benefits in being involved in sport at any level, but the most important thing is that it is enjoyed by the child, otherwise it's an uphill battle. Parents can give young children the opportunity to try a wide range of activities and children are likely to surprise their parents in their talents and interests.

Children shaking hands before football match

It’s also important to note that not all children will enjoy sport, but it’s great to ensure they have active hobbies of some sort. Some children will enjoy team sports, others will be more interested in individual activities, some will like high-adrenalin actives and others more evenly paced ones. Not all sporting activity has to be competitive and parents can help children lead healthy, active lifestyles in a variety of ways.

So enjoy this video, let it remove limitations we can be guilty of putting on young children’s abilities, but don’t take it too much to heart - your children have their own unique combination of skills and talent, and helping them find and enjoy their strengths and overcome their challenges will give them the foundations they need to build their future success on - whatever that success will look like.




Photo Credits:

Pushy Parent by Tom Webster licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Soccer Match by USAG-Humphreys licensed under CC BY 2.0


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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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