by Kendra U.
The term parental involvement is defined as “the amount of time a parent spends in activities with the child, and participation in relevant areas of the child’s life” (Fagen, 1996). A strong parent-child relationship has one of the greatest impacts on children (Hendley, 2004). Fagen (1996) noted that high school students who have a positive relationship with their parents develop higher self-esteem and confidence levels compared to those students who do not have a positive relationship with their parents. Parents can play a highly facilitative and positive role in sport or leisure career development for youth. However, hence the word can; it is not always positive. Sometimes parents are over-involved in a child’s sport, and there can be predicaments with this.
When parents are over-involved in their children’s activities/sports, youth’s development and acquisition of assets that help them thrive are put at risk. Youth may feel pressure from their parents, which could lead to less enjoyment in the game because it causes them stress just to play. Youth may also develop a low self-esteem if their parent is constantly nagging them to do better. If parents do not let their children think for themselves or make their own decisions – it may simply push the children away from the sport completely and lead to potential drop out.
In a study done by Kristy Leigh Hendley (2004), she examined the effects of parental involvement on a child’s enjoyment and success in a given sport. 189 adolescents aged 11-19, along with 108 of their parents were surveyed. The survey was used to gauge both the child’s and the parent’s separate perceptions of the parent’s involvement in the child’s sport. As a result, 15% of parents admitted to the statement, “I expect my child to play better than he/she usually plays.” Around 35% of kids agreed with the statement, “My parents expect me to play better than I usually play.”
It was also stated that parents do not perceive themselves to be critical of their child’s skills; however, children perceive that their parents are, indeed, critical of the way they play sports. Parents indicated that they do not get upset after their child’s team loses a game; however, children perceive that their parents do get upset when their team loses a game. Parents perceived that they do not put a lot of pressure on their children to do well in sports; however, the children once again, perceived that their parents do, indeed, put a lot of pressure on them. Whether or not the parents think that they are criticizing, pressuring or stressing out their child in sports, it was shown in Hendley’s (2004) article, that they most likely are.
Parent involvement is crucial in sports because if a parent is disinterested in their game, the child may lack necessary instrumental and emotional support at home that enables them to pursuit a sport or leisure career. I believe it is important to keep in mind that if you are going to continue to be over-involved in a child’s sport, you must be a constant positive support system. I was very fortunate growing up to have involved parents within my sports, to the preeminent extent. My mother and father supported me by driving/watching my games, always supporting my decisions in every sport I played, and they even coached several teams throughout my adolescent years. Whether they were my coach or not, they always informed me when I needed improvement through positive encouragement. They knew I could do better and wanted to see me thrive for my own personal well-being, not theirs. In conclusion, I strongly believe it is critical to be involved in your children’s sports growing up; however, not to the extent where it makes a child feel negative about themselves.
Fagen, D. (1996). Relationship between Parent-Child Relational Variables and Child Test Variables in Highly Stressed Urban Families. (0009-4005). Retrieved November 11, 2017.
Hendley, K. L. (2004). Parent Involvement in Youth Sports. Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management Concentration: Sports Management. Retrieved November 10, 2017.