Parents: What Not to Say After the Game
by Karyn Maier, Managing Editor, 

Sometimes, the ride home after a game can seem like a long one, especially if it ended in a loss. What words you choose to fill the void at that time can communicate more to your child than you might intend. In fact, you could easily find yourself sending a lot of mixed messages without even realizing it. Here’s the low-down on what not to say to help end the day on a high-five note. 

1. Don’t undermine the coach’s leadership. You might disagree with a decision or strategy the coach implemented during the game, but refrain from vocalizing it. Otherwise, you may encourage your child to inappropriately challenge authority.

2. Don’t suggest to your child that they follow your advice on the sly instead of the coach’s instruction. Your role as a sports parent is a supportive one, not a substitute.

3. Abstain from comparing your child’s athletic abilities to that of your own, no matter how stellar your youth sports record may have been. This applies to the accomplishments of older sibling’s as well. No kid should be made to feel as though they have to measure up.

4. Avoid placing too much emphasis on your child’s performance during the game than that of the team as a whole. The point of participating in a team sport is to promote teamwork building skills, not individual showmanship.

5. Keep criticism in check. No matter how constructive your well-meaning observations might be, they will more likely be interpreted as conveying disappointment from someone very important to them—you.

So, what should you say after the game? Try some of these strategies to turn post-game gloom and doom into hopeful anticipation of many more game opportunities to come. 

  • Praise your child for displaying exceptional effort and attitude. These attributes count for a lot more in the long run than the number of goals or homeruns made any day. 

  • If your child laments about a mistake they made during the game, steer them toward a productive self-evaluation by asking what they could have done differently. This allows your child to work the problem out in a non-judgmental setting. 

  • Address the value of good sportsmanship by example. A simple, ‘good game’ congratulatory call to the opposing coach or team will speak volumes.


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