Rules for parents

September 19, 2003

Parents' Fair Play Code, courtesy of the Ohio High School Athletic Association

  • Make sure your children know that win or lose, scared or heroic, you love them, appreciate their efforts and are not disappointed in them. This will allow them to do their best without fear of failure.

  • Be the person they can look to for constant positive reinforcement.

  • Try your best to be completely honest about your child's athletic ability, competitive attitude, sportsmanship and actual skill level.

  • Be helpful, but don't coach them. It's tough not to, but it is a lot tougher for the child to be flooded with advice and critical instruction.

  • Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be "out there trying," to be working to improve their skills and attitudes. Help them develop the feeling for competing, for trying hard, for having fun.

  • Try not to relive your athletic life through your child in a way that creates pressure. You were frightened, backed off at times and were not always heroic. Athletic children need their parents, so do not withdraw. There is a thinking, feeling, sensitive, free spirit in that uniform who needs a lot of understanding, especially when their world turns bad. If they are comfortable with you win or lose, then they are on their way to maximum enjoyment.

  • Don't compete with the coach. If your child is receiving mixed messages from two different authority figures, he or she will likely become disenchanted.

  • Don't compare the skill, courage or attitude of your child with other members of the team.

  • Get to know the coach(es). Then you can be assured that his or her philosophy, attitudes, ethics and knowledge are such that you are happy to have your child under his or her leadership.

  • Always remember that children tend to exaggerate, both when praised and when criticized. Temper your reaction and investigate before overreacting.

  • Make a point of understanding courage and the fact that it is relative. Some of us climb mountains and are afraid to fly. Some of us will fly but turn to jelly if a bee approaches. Everyone is frightened in certain areas. Explain that courage is not the absence of fear. It's a means of doing something in spite of fear and discomfort.
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