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Watching other parents at our children’s sports camps this summer has been really interesting.  Most drop their kids off and leave as quickly as possible to go to work or take care of errands.  However, I noticed that a fair number stay and watch their kids.  Whether it’s a swimming, tennis or soccer camp, there are always the competitive parents who feel the need to hover, comment and analyze their kids athletic prowess during what should be a fun, low-stress camp day.  It was amazing to me how some parents would actually interrupt the coaches and counselors agenda to speak to them about their own child’s progress.  

With soccer season just around the corner, it is a good time as parents to take a moment to reflect on how our inappropriate behavior affects our children.  Of course, we all want what is best for our kids.  We want to see them do well, be happy, have fair chances and excel in the sport of their choice.  However, we need to keep in mind that the way we behave on the sidelines, sets the tone for how our children will behave on the field and in life.  Yes, it can be heartbreaking when our child gets passed over to play the position he really wants, or has to sit out a quarter when he desperately wants to be in the game, but if we throw a fit and get the coach to change his plan, it will only teach our children poor sportsmanship.  

The society we live in has no doubt become extremely competitive.  While our parents were happy to see a group of kids join in an unstructured game of soccer, now we are in leagues, clubs and pay a great deal of money for coaching to make sure that our kids get on the “gold” team.  We all have the best intentions, but at what cost to our kids?  How many times do we need to witness a child breaking down and crying before we realize that we may be putting too much pressure on them?

It is our responsibility as parents to be good role models.  We therefore need to encourage good sportsmanship by showing support for our coaches and referees decisions.   Screaming and yelling at officials, or overriding the voice of the coach to call out directions to a child on the field adds unnecessary stress and pressure to both the child and staff.   We need to learn to calm down and enjoy the process.  Just like we experience in everyday life, sometimes our kids will have great scoring days and others will be disappointing.  These disappointing days can be turned into teaching moments to discuss how improvements can be made.  Focus on the excitement of what they can do better for their next game, find some praise in the days events and teach your child that not everything always goes as perfectly planned. 

For parents who find themselves unable to control their anger during their kids sporting events, now is the time to enroll in online anger management classes.  They are easy to access on any web-based computer privately in your own home, can be taken at your own convenience any time of the day or night, and are full of information on how to get your anger under control.  You will learn techniques and tips to gain control of unnecessary and aggressive behavior that will reward you in every aspect of your life. 

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