Ten Commandments of Parental Behavior

By Rick Wolff

Ten or 20 years ago, watching a youth game was fairly simple. Parents would bring the kids, hang around the field and chitchat with other Moms and Dads. Then, when the game ended, the kids would hop back into their parents' cars, and off they'd go for an ice cream cone.

These days, however, life at youth league games is no longer so pristine and pure.

And it's the parents, not the kids who are the main reason so many problems and concerns are cropping up. Moms and Dads too often are losing perspective not only of what's important at these games, but also of what's appropriate sideline behavior. So, parents, here's a quick reminder of how grownups should behave at kids' games.

1.Talk about the other kids on the team-indeed, on both teams in the same manner you would want other parents to talk about your child. This is the golden rule applied to sports. Watching kids' sports tends to be a social affair. When you're making conversation on the sidelines with your friends and neighbors think about what you're saying before you actually say it. To always be on the safe side, only voice praise for the other children. That way, you'll never go wrong.

2.It's nice to give the coach a pat on the back when he or she wins. It's even nicer when you give the coach a pat on the back after a loss. Remember that the vast majority of coaches are volunteers who are sacrificing their own time to help your kid. So give them a well-deserved salute, especially when their team hasn't fared well that day.

3.Don't hesitate to give the ref, a pat on the back either. As you might have guessed, refs are people too. They like when parent's and fans acknowledge their on-field efforts as well. Why don't you lead the way?

4.Remind your child that it's the effort that counts. We know all the kids want to win. That's a given. But we also know that for every winning team, there's also a loser. Be prepared to cushion your child's disappointment after a loss by pointing out that he or she played hard and put forth a tremendous effort.

5.Avoid P.G.A. the Postgame Analysis. When the game is over and your child climbs into your car avoid at all costs the detailed excruciating postgame analysis of everything she did right or wrong. Just let your child chill out, savor the fun of having played, and relax. The absolute worst time for friendly criticism is immediately after the game.

6.Smile a lot! Kids sports are about having fun and because kids take their behavior cues from you try at least to look like you're enjoying yourself.

7.If you aren't a "good sport" at the games, the kids won't be either. This should be self-evident. If you set a pattern of being a sideline loudmouth who likes to yell and scream at your ref, coach or opposing team, don't be surprised when your kids start copying your behavior. You will have only yourself to blame.

8.Take the time to learn the rules of the game. A lot of kids these days are playing sports you may not be familiar with. So, if you don't know the rules of the game, why don't you and your child learn them together? Besides, it's a good idea to read the rulebook. It just might help win a dispute.

9.If your must make noise at the games, shout only praise and encouragement. If you're a screamer and yeller, make certain that when you open your mouth; you're only pouring forth cheerful encouragement for your child's team. There's never any place for derogatory, snide or sarcastic comments at kid' games.

10.Above all, be there for your children. Support then, praise them, and let them know you can always be counted on for unconditional love, regardless of the final score.