Sports are supposed to be fun. In my personal experience, 90% of the time that sports stop being fun is because adult egos and parents living vicariously through their children are ruining the fun.
Two weeks ago at my son’s hockey camp I witnessed something I hoped that I’d never see at this level of hockey: a parent flip out on his child.
Allow me to lay out the scenario.
Little Pens separates the children into groups rotating through six different stations around the ice, each focusing on a different skill or drill. The children are a wide range of ages and sizes. I noticed one child in particular the very first week because compared with the other children, he is just a peanut. (And oh so adorable in his humungous gear- plus his was wearing a Fleury jersey just like my kid that week).
This little boy can’t skate as well as the other kids and that is fine. If you recall my blogs from last year at Jordan’s first hockey camp, he was the smallest and least skilled. I’ve been there. This boy is one of the youngest and definitely the tiniest kid there. He will get it. He falls a lot and that is okay. The kids are there to learn! That is the point of this camp.
He was at the station where the kids were scrimmaging. The coach was occupied helping a child who was having an issue with one of his shin guards. Safety first! He was making the adjustments so the kid could resume play. The other kids were just hanging out laughing, skating around, acting like, well- kids. They weren’t acting up or jeopardizing their safety. Little man kept falling and wasn’t getting up very quickly. Here comes dad.
Pounding on the glass, yelling at his kid to get up. Okay, man. settle down. My girlfriend that I was sitting with and I cringed as we watched this. Then, dad did the ultimate. He went out onto the ice (which you’re not allowed to do anyway because he had shoes on and not skates and that’s a huge liability to the rink). He grabs his son and starts yelling at him. The coach finished up helping the other kid and stepped over and diffused the situation and asked the dad to leave the ice. This all went down within a matter of two minutes.
Dad comes back and sits down and is shaking his head and laughing…while his son is standing on the ice sobbing.
Way to go man. Not only did you make yourself look like the backside of a horse, but you ruined today for your son.
I’ve been stern with my son at the rink- but for compromising safety. Not for falling. Hell, I think Jordan falls half the time on purpose because he loves sliding and thinks it is fun. Whatever. He is five. I expect only so much composure from the kid. On the whole, he listens very well to his coaches, tries really hard, and more importantly- he has a smile on his face the whole time.
I understand wanting your child to pay attention. I understand wanting your child to try their best. Trying your best is an important value and attitude for anyone to have. But if you are berating your child- especially when they are trying something for the first time- you will not receive their best and the only person that is hurting is your child. Your are giving them a poor experience which is tarnishing their impression of sports, exercise, and socializing with the other children. You are also undermining the coaching staff, which doesn’t help your child learn to respect the coach’s authority.
There are sixty children at this camp. If even one of them makes it to the NHL, it will be a small miracle. Get it out of your head that your son or daughter is the next Sidney Crosby. You will both be happier for it.