50 Things to Help your Child
By Wayne Goldsmith and Helen Morris
- Love them unconditionally.
- Support their coaches.
- Accept that they cannot win every time
- Allow them to be kids and have fun.
- Help them to develop as people with
character and values.
- Turn off as a sporting parent: don’t make
sport the one and only topic of conversation at the dinner table, in
the car, etc.
- Don’t introduce your child as “This is my
son/daughter the swimmer.” Their sports are something they do, not
who they are.
- Don’t do everything for them: teach
responsibility and self-management.
- Reward frequently for success and effort
but make the rewards small, simple, practical and personal. Kids
don’t need a CD or $20 just for playing a sport or getting a ribbon.
- Reward them with what they really love:
- Be calm, relaxed and dignified at
- Accept that progress in any sport takes a
long time: at least 7 to 10 years after maturation in most sports
for the athlete to reach full potential. A little manual work and
helping out with household chores are important lessons in
- Believe it or not, kids can learn to pack
and unpack their training bags and fill their own water bottles:
teach and encourage them to take control of their own sporting
- Don’t reward championship performances
with junk food.
- Skills and attitude are most important.
Don’t waste money on the latest and greatest equipment or gimmicks,
hoping to buy a short cut to success.
- Encourage the same commitment and passion
for school and study as you do for sport.
- Avoid relying on or encouraging “sports
food” or “sports supplements”-focus on a sensible, balanced diet
which includes a variety of wholesome foods.
- Allow kids to try many sports and
- Don’t specialize too early. There is no
such thing as a 10 year old Olympic swimmer.
- Junk food is OK occasionally. Don’t worry
about it, but see #14 above.
- Praise qualities such as effort,
attempting new skills and hard work rather than winning.
- Love them unconditionally (worth
- Have your “guilt gland” removed: this will
help you avoid phrases like “I’ve got better things to do with my
time” or “do you realize how much we give up so that you can swim?”
Everyone loses when you play the guilt game.
- Encourage activities which build broad,
general movement skills like running, catching, throwing, agility,
balance, co-ordination, speed and rhythm. These general skills can
have a positive impact on all sports.
- Encourage occasional “down time”-no school
or sport-just time to be kids.
- Encourage relationships and friendships
away from training, competition and school work-it’s all about
- Help and support your children to achieve
the goals they set, then take time to relax, celebrate and enjoy
their achievements as a family.
- Never use training or sport as punishment-i.e.
more laps/more training.
- Do a family fitness class-yoga or martial
arts or another sport unrelated to the child’s main sport. Everyone
- Car pool. Get to know the other kids and
families on the team and in turn you can allow your child to be more
independent by doing things with other trusted adults.
- Attend practice regularly to show that you
are interested in the effort and process, not just in the win/lose
- Help raise money for the team and kids,
even if your own child does not directly benefit from the
- Tell your children you are proud of them
for being involved in healthy activities.
- Volunteer your time for the team.
- Teach your child the importance of
“team”-where working together and supporting each other are
- Even if you were an athlete and even if
you are a trained coach, resist the temptation to coach your own
child, it rarely works.
- Be aware that your child’s passion for a
particular sport may change.
- Be aware that skills learned in one sport
can often transfer to another.
- Accept “flat spots” or plateaus-times when
your child does not improve. During these times encourage
participation for fun, focus on learning skills and help develop
perseverance and patience.
- Believe it or not, American kids are
unlikely to die from drinking tap water!
- Cheer for your child appropriately. Do not
embarrass yourself or your child.
- Make sure that each week includes some
family time where you do family things and talk about family
issues-not about sport.
- Take a strong stand against smoking and
drug use (both recreational and performance enhancing.)
- Set an example with sensible, responsible
- Don’t look for short cuts like “miracle
sports drinks” or “super supplements”-success comes from
consistently practicing skills and developing an attitude where the
love of the sport and physical fitness are the real “magic.”
- If one of your children is a champion
athlete and the others in the family are not so gifted, ensure that
you have just as much time, energy and enthusiasm for their
- Eliminate the phrase “what we did when I
- Encourage your children to find strong
role models but try not to let this decision be based on sports
only. Look for role models who consistently demonstrate integrity,
humility, honesty and the ability to take responsibility for their
- Encourage your children to learn
leadership and practice concepts like sharing, selflessness, team
work and generosity.
- Don’t compare your child’s
achievement to other children-good or bad. This creates
barriers and resentment and we don’t need any more of that!