Much of the feedback given to parents is that they are over involved and need to give kids room to grow and learn in sport and other activities. This remains true, but sport psychologist Dr. Eddie O’Connor gives us one exception when your child’s activities can be about you.

Still True:

  • Let children own their responsibilities
  • Don’t give the performance “feedback” on car ride home
  • Ask did you have fun first.
  • Say “I love you” and “I am proud of you.”
  • Say “I love to watch you play.”


But does a parent follow the child’s lead if she doesn’t want a graduation party or attend the end of year banquet? What if you, the parent, really wants one? In these cases:

  • Have an open conversation where you hear the child’s wishes, and see if there is a valid reason why s/he shouldn’t attend (perhaps conflicting priorities).
  • Openly and honestly remind your child that you have been a part of the sport/school experience and it is important to you to celebrate their accomplishments.
  • Work together on a solution that gets both needs met.

As parents, we have gone through the ups and downs of sport with our kids. Celebrated the wins, have been disappointed with lack of playing time, hurt by injury and broken dreams and missed opportunities. When our kids graduate high school, our sport parent career also comes to an end and it is ok to have similar feelings of pride and sadness. Be open and honest with your student-athletes without making them feel responsible or guilty for your negative emotions.

Take a look at Dr. Eddie O’Connors FOX17 interview below, where he talks more in depth about parental involvement in youth activities: