Active for Life

Active for Life is a leading promoter of children’s physical literacy to help parents raise active and healthy kids. In response to increased rates of child obesity and sedentary behaviour, Active for Life was formed in 2011 to give parents the tools to help their children develop skills and habits for lifelong physical activity. At the core of the initiative is the idea that every child deserves to be physically literate. Active for Life is a social enterprise of B2ten, a Canadian organization formed to promote sport and athlete development in Canada. For more information, visit Active for Life.
How I Learned to Relax at the Playground and Let My Kids Fall
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Before you have a child, you think you know what kind of parent you’re going to be. I thought I’d be relaxed and go with the flow—turned out my daughter thrived on structure. I imagined we’d spend hours playing with each other’s hair. Nuh-uh. That kid even looks at a brush and she screams.

Here’s where I really went wrong though: I thought I was going to let her be a blank slate, let her fall and fail and make mistakes and learn from them. But from the moment she was born, without really realizing it, I’ve been inadvertently preventing her from hearing her own inner voice that tells her to, ‘Go for it’.

Every time she tried to take a bigger step in the playground, my frown deepened in fear. Every time she got innocently curious and ran off to see something, I’d yell, ‘Watch out,’ ‘Slow down,’ or ‘Be careful.’

Much as I hate parenting terms, I see now that I’ve been a helicopter parent. Since my hovering has been mostly around sports and physical challenges, maybe I don’t quite fit the stereotype. But in at least one area, the propeller blades on my helicopter are working overtime.

There’s a running joke among my friends that I never have to worry about the dreaded mid-day call from school. You know, that one where they’re calling to say your child fell doing something crazy in the playground? My daughter is so cautious she won’t attempt more than the first two monkey bars. And I’ve secretly been thrilled. So long as her timidity never held her back socially, I’ve been quite content not to have that extra worry on top of the usual ordinary parenting concerns.

But the more I started watching her at play, the more I started to hear my words echoing back at me: ‘Watch out, slow down, be careful.’

When my husband taught her to ride a bike, he said, ‘Stay straight, look ahead, you can do it.’ It suddenly hit me that I was always telling her what not to do. I’m not saying I didn’t offer encouragement, or appreciate her success, but I may have reduced the accomplishment’s validation because I was too busy worrying to enjoy the moment and celebrate it with her.

I really became aware of all this recently during a hike with friends and their particularly adventurous sons. The kids were practically flying down the trail and I felt myself start to warn her to slow down. They were running down hills, and my mouth opened to caution her again. It was like an out of body experience—or a really bad after-school special—and I suddenly just got it. She was listening to her voice, trusting herself to take a chance, and I was about to ruin it. I braced myself, smiled, and watched with pride as she began to really explore her surroundings, climbing and moving with ease and certainty.

Since that day, I’ve been watching my beautiful, independent child really take chances, and while I may occasionally tense up when she decides to scale the playground wall, goes a little fast on her scooter, or finally, confidently reaches for that third monkey bar, I will force myself not to stand in her way.

I may never stop being a helicopter parent, but I will do everything I can to make sure she’s in the pilot seat.

Image of monkey bars from Shutterstock.

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what soccer parents need to know
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There’s at least one parent at every game. The one who goes a little overboard on the sidelines. Maybe they yell at the ref. Maybe they yell at other players. The bottom line is, good sportsmanship isn’t just something the players on the field need to remember. To avoid being that parent, Taking You Beyond The Game has compiled a list of the 15 things soccer parents need to know and keep in mind when watching from the sidelines.

  1. Let the coaches coach. Telling your child to do something different from what their coach is saying can be distracting and confusing.
  2. Let the kids play. A yelling parent can cause kids to lose focus on the field. Trust that the coaches have instructed your child well; if your child makes a mistake, don’t worry, he or she will likely learn from it.
  3. Don’t discuss the play of specific young players in front of other parents. When parents act like their child is the star, or make negative comments about other children, it can be hurtful and kill parent harmony, which is often a key to the overall success of a youth sport.
  4. Address issues in a positive way. If you hear parents making negative comments, listen patiently and then speak to the positive qualities of the player, coach or family.
  5. Don’t complain about coaches to other parents. Once the behind-the-back criticism begins, it might never end. If you have a genuine issue with your child’s coach, plan a private meeting in which you can air your concerns.
  6. Be encouraging. The coaches are there to guide young athletes through their mistakes, not the parents. Positive comments from the sidelines are more likely to boost children on the field.
  7. Avoid making negative comments about players on the other team. Always remember that these are kids, not paid professionals. Negative comments can be hurtful to the young player as well as their family.
  8. Be courteous. Keep interaction with parents on the other team as healthy and positive as possible.
  9. The ‘other’ team isn’t the enemy. Just as you’re out to watch your child play soccer, so too are the opposing team’s parents out to watch their kids. The only difference between sides here is the colour of the jerseys.
  10. Don’t criticize the referees. Refs are going to miss calls—it’s part of the game—but they’re trying to be fair and objective.
  11. Don’t blame others. Whether it’s towards the ref or anyone else, when a parent directs outbursts at someone for something that’s happened, it signals to the children that they can blame others when things go wrong.
  12. Don’t offer superficial support. Thanking an official for a call that went ‘your’ team’s way can be annoying and alienating. The ref wouldn’t have made the call if she didn’t think it was correct.
  13. Avoid walking up and down the sidelines. Following the play yelling instruction can be unnerving for the players and embarrassing to the children involved. If parents want to coach, they should pursue their coaching certification and then apply for openings.
  14. Be conscientious. Parents should take a moment to think about their words or actions before they act in the heat of the moment. Just as players are punished for inappropriate behaviour, parents can be as well.
  15. Let it go. If something happens on the field, the time to address it is not immediately after the game. Parents shouldn’t harass officials, coaches, other parents or players, and should speak positively with their child afterward. Sometimes the lessons learned on the drive home are as important as those learned on the field.
Comments | Tagged under summer, sports, spring, soccer
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