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.
- Let the coaches coach. Telling your child to do something different from what their coach is saying can be distracting and confusing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Be courteous. Keep interaction with parents on the other team as healthy and positive as possible.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Call me crazy, but when it’s raining outside, my first instinct is to find a nice warm spot indoors and, well, stay dry.
But I happen to live with three small people who believe quite the opposite is true. They like to remind me every time it rains that there’s no need to stay warm and dry indoors. Quite the contrary, in fact. The way my three kids see it, the wetter, the better.
And so, I’ve turned to them, seasoned experts in the art of playing in the rain, for suggestions on how to have fun and stay active outside on rainy days:
- Puddles. It’s all about the puddles. Jump in puddles, jump over puddles, jump around puddles. Kids might even like watching patterns in the water while their friends jump in puddles.
- Watch and follow water rivers as they run down the street.
- Splash each other.
- Make paper boats and sail them in a really big puddle.
- Catch raindrops with your umbrella.
- Catch raindrops on your tongue. Then try catching them on your hands. Or fingertips. Or toes. Or nose. (Kids won’t realize, but they’ll be developing their balance, overall body coordination, and sensory development.
- Play a favourite sport in the rain. (But don’t forget the rain will make things slippery and if they are hesitant to try here’s an excellent short film you can show them for a little inspiration.)
- Have a shower. If it’s raining hard enough and you have a safe, biodegradable soap, put on a swimsuit and wash your hair.
- Water plants. Carry the houseplants outside and let them get a breath of fresh air and a big delicious drink of rainwater.
- Go for a hike. Yes, this one means there’s definite adult involvement, but if you dress for the weather everything will be fine. I promise.
- Make mud pies.
- Play in the sandbox. It’ll be a whole new adventure with the rain coming down.
- Go to the playground. Of course, be careful around equipment that might be dangerous if slippery, but enjoy the novelty of being the only family in the park.
- Look for worms. My kids love to rescue them from the middle of the sidewalk while we’re out for a rainy walk.
- Dance. Put your favourite song in your pocket (to protect it from the rain, of course), listen to the beat of the raindrops, and dance your heart out. If Gene Kelly can do it, so can you.
- Try our animal activity and jump like a frog, fly like a robin, waddle like a duck.
- Take a family walk around the neighbourhood. If your kids are anything like mine, they probably love using umbrellas. This is the perfect opportunity for them to pop them open and have fun.
- If you’re feeling really adventurous, bring out the art supplies and see what happens when the rain inspires the creative process.
- Blow bubbles. There’s something really cool about watching them pop (or not) while the rain falls.
- Rain doesn’t mean everyone is stuck indoors. Some of the most fun my kids have is when they’re stomping through puddles, playing in the mud, and getting soaking wet on the rainiest of days. Which brings me to our family’s final tip: Dry off with the big pile of towels that your oh-so-well-prepared parents remembered to leave waiting for you at the front door.