I’m currently studying a module at the Open University, E233: Sport & Exercise Psychology (a case study approach) and as part of the unit I was studying yesterday I read an interesting paper on the dropout rate of adolescent athletes from sport (Fraser-Thomas, J., Cote, J., & Deakin, J. (2008). Examining Adolescent Sport Dropout and Prolonged Engagement from a Developmental Perspective. Journal Of Applied Sport Psychology, 20(3), 318-333.).
The summary of the paper given in my OU Study Guide, “In summary, the chances of dropout from youth sporting programmes can be increased by specialising at too young an age and by unrealistically high expectations on the part of parents” , served as a useful conversation starter on Facebook, and the thread has received some interesting “likes” and comments from parents I know. I always find it quite interesting to observe the interaction of others in social forums and it’s especially interesting when you broach the subject of pushy parentage. Very few people will admit in public that they are pushy, and in fact I think it’s one of the hardest (nay impossible) issues to raise with someone. Admittedly not having children myself it would be easy to say that I am unable to understand the nuances of parenting and whether a comment or behaviour is actually pushiness or just that of a loving and supportive parent. I disagree though, some behaviour is so obviously pushy that a blind monkey could spot it. Of course pushy parents are not blind monkeys and hence they remain oblivious to the distress they cause their child, and the concern they raise in observers.
While Googling to see if I could find a linkable copy of the paper I read to share with you all (I couldn’t find one but feel free to shout if you’re really interested and I’ll let you read my copy), I came across another interesting post on this subject. Tips for Being a Winning Sports Parent on the Sports Podium Journal website not only has some good examples of parental behaviour and the effects this can have on the child, but gives 10 tips to help parents raise happy, healthy athletes. Well worth a read whether you are a parent, or are just interested in observing them (perhaps in a virtual parent zoo).
Back to the non-blind monkeys though…..has anyone got any good tips on how to gently highlight to a parent that they are killing their child’s love of the sport? Again as a non-parent it seems that you don’t have the right to comment on someone’s parenting skills, but that doesn’t prevent you spotting pushy parenting and wanting to somehow give them a gentle heads-up that maybe they might want to take a different tack when “encouraging” their golden goose.
Feel free to post your thoughts and ideas in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook.