Every Child Needs A Booster – What Supporting Your Child Doesn’t Mean

Whether you’re watching your children from the sidelines during a crucial cup semi-final, driving them to training or talking to them at home about the game, your influence as a parent is critical. Too often overenthusiastic parents can let their emotions about the game and their children influence how they communicate and what they say to their child, the coach and the referee. To be a good soccer parent there are certain rules you should be aware of and should try to follow.

Listed below are some golden rules of what not to do:
– Never showing any encouragement.
– Never turning up to watch a match or training.
– At games spending the whole game:
Shouting “be aggressive” to your child, shouting at the opposition, shouting at your team that they’re useless, shouting that your child is useless, shouting that the referee is useless, shouting that the opposition’s coach is useless, shouting that your coach is useless.

For personal reminders, keep the following in mind as well:
– If your child is injured, don’t run onto the pitch to shout at the player responsible for picking on your child.

– At the final whistle do not give your child a big cuddle and a sloppy kiss. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t 26 at the time!

What Does ‘Supporting Your Child’ Mean?
To put it simply, it is about helping your child develop through soccer. Anyone involved in the game knows that soccer can bring huge benefits to the players, coaches and volunteers, such as the sense of belonging, teamwork, achievement and fitness.

Here are some examples of what you can do to support your child:
– Encourage, but don’t force your child to take part.
– Understand what your child wants from soccer and support it.
– Emphasize the enjoyment and fun of playing the game.
– Praise and reinforce effort and improvement.
– Be a constructive, positive and honest critic.
– Encourage your child to review their performance and discuss ways for improvement.
– Keep winning in perspective.
– Encourage fair play.

How Children Learn and How You Can Support This
We now recognize that children learn in a variety of ways and this principle is as true in soccer as in any other activity. Some people learn best through visual stimulation (video/TV), while for others it is through auditory learning (listening) or perhaps they are kinetic/tactile learners (through feel and touch). However, for most people learning is a combination of all three. Children tend to learn best when the learning involves student involvement, active involvement, structure and organization, ownership (when they feel it’s for them, they are allowed to contribute) and relating it to reality (such as running plays in practice and running those same plays during the games, allowing the players to see its relevance). On the other hand, children become less responsive when the learning features humiliation and sarcasm, disorganization and teaching the topic not the players as when you feature a new concept before the players have yet to understand the prior one.

As parents, it is important that we encourage our children to experience a variety of learning opportunities. Remember that children are often easily led, anxious to please and prone to over-enthusiasm and so plenty of praise and positive reinforcement is needed, especially with beginners. Children often find it hard to understand negative instructions and easier to understand positive reinforcement. This can frequently mean playing down the game’s result and playing up the performance. This reduces the child’s anxiety and decreases any worry about failing. Remember that children do not mean to make mistakes; we should accept mistakes as a necessary part of learning.

Make sure the players play by the rules; the majority of children as they are introduced to the game will not knowingly infringe the rules of the game. Finally, work with other adults, not against them, and by so doing reinforce positive attitudes among the children.

Children are extremely sensitive and parents yelling from the sidelines during games and being overly critical afterwards will only stunt the growth that is likely the cause of the outbursts to begin with. Being supportive and providing compliments will help the child not only enjoy the game more, but also, more likely than not, improve their skills as well.