If you’re a parent of a child in Jiu-Jitsu, it is obvious you want your child to do well and succeed. That is a normal expectation. However, there is a line that you need to be aware of. This line separates the healthy, supportive parents from the overbearing, slightly psychotic parents that push their kids too far. You want to make sure your child actually enjoys participating in the sport, so it is highly important that you make sure you support them in a healthy way so that they grow and learn in a positive environment. Here are some ways you can do just that:
1. Stop screaming at competitions– Parents, it is okay to cheer your child on! In fact, it is great, but please don’t shout things such as “break his arm!” or “kill him!” Sadly enough, I have heard these types of phrases yelled towards children and it makes me feel very unsettled. These are not grown adults in a real street fight. These are young, influential children participating in a sport that is actually supposed to teach them respect. You may think you sound normal, but in all honesty you’re probably getting a lot of looks from people who are wondering why you would yell such an absurd statement to a child. If you’re going to cheer a child on, use positive phrases and encouragement.
2. Stop thinking your child’s performance is reflective of your parenting-Every child is different. How he/ she performs does not reflect on you, so stop thinking that. Children participating in a sport is a way for them to self-discover. It is for them to see what they like, what they dislike, and what they’re good at. If they lose a match, or don’t perform a drill well, that certainly does not reflect on you as a parent. This is their chance to learn and grow as a person.
3. Don’t live through your child– Don’t be that parent that lives vicariously through their child. Not only is it selfish, but you’re not genuinely caring about your child’s performance. All you really are doing is trying to live out a washed out dream that you once had, through them. In no way is that healthy. This is not about you, so always remember what your child’s wants and needs are as well.
4. Don’t get mad- So your child loses a match? Please, do NOT yell at them. Do not look down on them. You should only be providing encouraging phrases, and uplifting words of advice. Yelling at the child and making them feel like they did something wrong will eventually ruin the sport for them along with their self-confidence. Always provide your child with unconditional love. Also, maybe they don’t even care if they lost or didn’t do something well. Please do not say things like “well you SHOULD care.” You are only instilling the concept that winning is all that matters, and that is the last thing you should do.
5. Don’t interfere with the coach- This is simple. Whether it’s practice or competition what the coach says, goes. As a parent, I am sure you feel entitled, but the coach is the coach of this specific sport for a reason. If we’re going to be honest here, basically the coach knows more than you do. Don’t make your child feel conflicted, by saying things that go against what their coach says.
6. Be a role model for your child- This should be a given. Be someone your child looks up to. You set the pace for them right from the beginning. Be nothing but positive and supportive so they can see what a healthy environment looks like. Eventually your children will grow up and have children of their own, and they will teach their kids the way they were taught. Always think about your actions and the affects they may have down the road.
7. Always encourage, but don’t be pushy- Be encouraging. Go to practices and competitions. Listen to your child when they express their needs. If they need a day off, let them have it. Don’t compete with other parents; that only causes tension within the gym. Constructive criticism is okay, but keep it constructive and always give praise when deserved.
I hope parents out there understand the role they play in their child’s growth process. Sports are great for children. They help them to grow and develop a vast amount of great values and qualities. It is your job to create the healthy environment for your child to get the most they can out of it!