You, Your Child, and Youth Sports

10 Truths Parents of Youth Athletes Need to Know by Janis Meredith Record Searchlight, Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hindsight is usually 20/20 and at the risk of sounding like an old codger who ruminates about “what I wish I would have known when I was your age,” let me share with you some truths I wish I’d been more cognizant of when my first child started playing sports 25 years ago.

Truth 1: The fun should never fade.

For little ones, it always starts out as “just for fun”. But somewhere along the way, fun takes a backseat and, for some young athletes, it fades altogether. Sports should always be fun for your child. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or that there are never challenges. It merely means that the love of the game trumps all.

Truth 2: You will face different seasons.

Not winter, spring, summer, or fall, but hard, easy, frustrating, and smooth. Every team will not be easy to read. Help your child to recognize the “season” he or she is in, and don’t let the learning opportunity slip away.

Truth 3: Pestering and nagging don’t work.

Someone needed to remind me of this on a daily basis because I often resorted to this tactic in desperation when I wanted my kids to try harder. You can’t nag motivation into your child.

Truth 4: Worry is  waste of time.

I knew this truth even as I stressed. It never made my kids play better; it only made me miserable and sometimes not fun to be around.

Truth 5: Interfering is not best.

The parental temptation to fix things for your kids will often cause you to step in and rearrange the circumstances to make things better. Much better to help guide your child through things instead of teaching her to avoid them at all costs. Obviously there are exceptions when it involves emotional or physical safety.

Truth 6: Coaches and officials will never be perfect.

They make mistakes in strategy, play-calling, even in how they act and speak. Give them a little grace. It’s a hard job to please parents, coach kids, and manage a team.

Truth 7: Words matter.

When you chew your kid out after a game for a mistake, or join in on the coach bashing with your child or with other parents, it matters. Conversations like this cause tension is your relationship with your child and damage to people. They do nothing to resolve issues.

Truth 8: Playing time is not important.

Before you start sending me nasty emails, let me clarify my statement: Of course, every parent wants his child to play a lot and be in the game as much as possible. But, quite honestly, we put way too much emphasis on minutes, innings, and quarters, when we should be more concerned about progress, growth, and life lessons learned. When your child graduates and doesn’t play sports any more, no one is going to ask her how many minutes she played in each game. But they will notice if she is a person of strength, a hard worker, and enjoyable to be around. Those are things that really count.

Truth 9: Spending more money isn’t always the answer.

The elite team and expensive gear are not always the solution. Be choosy about the money you spend on youth sports. My kids had opportunities that were very economical and some that were costly. Quite honestly, the higher costs didn’t always translate into a more valuable experience.

Truth 10: Your child’s team needs your help.

Just because there’s a designated team parent doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Teamwork begins with parents showing kids how it’s done. They all need to pitch in and help in any small way they can. There should never be just one or two parents doing all the work.


Don’t Let Youth Sports Consume Your Adulthood  by Janis Meredith   Record Searchlight, Sunday, June 19, 2016

Do you feel like you’re barely able to keep up with sports parenting demands? Tournaments, practices, fundraisers, games, volunteering–not to mention the demands at home and work. It’s easy for sports parents to get sucked into the vortex of youth sports and end up suffering from a severe case of over-activity. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then perhaps it’s time for a re-evaluation of priorities.

  • Every summer you forgo family vacations because weekends are filled with tournaments.
  • You let your child play on two or three teams at the same time.
  • Your family is lucky to have dinner together one to two times a week.
  • You say yes to volunteer every time you’re asked, even when you already help out.
  • You can’t remember the last time you and your spouse went on a date–or, if you’re single, the last time you went out with a good friend.
  • You can’t remember the last time you and your kids took a day and did something that was totally for fun and had nothing to do with sports.
  • Close friends and family have stopped asking for your time because they know you will say no.
  • You’re constantly more tired when you get up in the morning than you are when you go to bed.
  • The only exercise you get is running from one game or practice to another.
  • You feel guilty for missing one of your child’s games.
  • Even at your child’s games, you are multitasking on your phone.

There may even be more severe symptoms such as exhaustion, chronic illness, loneliness, inability to control emotions, or a lack of self-care. Don’t ignore the warnings of over-activity. Someday, you will look back and ask yourself where did the time go? Don’t let over-activity rob you of enjoying this season with your kids.


Listen to a Mom Who has been there for her Child Athlete:  Record Searchlight, Sunday, July 17, 2016 by Janis Meredith

Youth sports usually starts out fun for sports parents and kids. But as athletes get older and the competition escalates, it’s not unusual for sports parents to start stressing. Do any of these reasons for stress resonate with you?

  • You are too busy and always feel left behind. Antidote: Sift through your schedule and prioritize. Get rid of the good things and hold onto the best.
  • You don’t agree with the coach’s game strategy. Antidote: Come to terms with the fact that you don’t have to agree. Let him coach. You stick to parenting. The issue here is not Xs and Os, but a positive learning experience for your child.
  • Your child is not getting enough playing time. Antidote: Every scenario is different, but the bottom line is that this is a battle your child needs to fight for herself so she can do it for herself when you are not around.
  • Your child is not playing the position he wants. Antidote: Let your child talk to the coach about it. And then remember that this is a team sport and each athlete needs to focus on what’s best for the team, not on what’s best for him.
  • You get tense watching games because you want your child to play well. Antidote: I don’t know that there is really a cure for this stress, but it does help to remember that it’s just a game and that whatever happens–win, lose, mistakes, perfection–your child is in a learning process that will continue way past this game.
  • The politics of youth sports are getting to you. Antidote: Separate yourself from the root of the problem. Steer clear of the people who drive you crazy. Focus on the kids playing, and do all that you can to give your child a positive youth sports experience. Focusing on the drama is draining and a total waste of time.
  • Your child doesn’t seem to be trying. Antidote: Before digging too deeply on this, be sure that your child really wants to play the sport. After that, let it go. You cannot force your child to be motivated, although you can look for opportunities to ask questions that will help you understand what your child is thinking. It may be that this is where you can enlist the help of others–coach, teammate, or another adult–to motivate your child.
  • Your child is too hard on herself. Antidote: Your encouraging words may go in one ear and out the other if your perfectionist child comes home angry and frustrated about her performance. Give her time to calm down, be ready to listen and ask questions that will help her think through what she can learn from the experience. Refrain from pointing out mistakes again and stay positive.
  • Your athlete is overlooked. Antidote: If you feel your child is not getting the recognition for his efforts, then make it your priority to be his biggest cheerleader and talk good sportsmanship and teamwork. Encourage him to play for his love of the game, not the accolades.
  • You worry about injuries. Antidote: You can’t totally prevent injuries, but you can be sure your child is cleared by a physician to play, that your child’s team is abiding by safety guidelines, and that there is always a medical person at the game. Injuries are inevitable in sports–it’s not if but when, and how your child recovers and moves forward.

Will you listen to a mom who was a sports parent for 21 years? I wasted a lot of time stressing and it never solved problems or helped my kids play better. Find your stress point, apply the antidote, and enjoy the season.