A new poll shows that parents who push their children too much actually turn them off to the world of sports.
Children as young as 8 years old reported being told by their parents that they are "too heavy", "too lazy to run" or have made a "pathetic mistake" while playing a sport. Additional reports include parents swearing at them, and one child said they had been told, "you're not good enough, you can't do it, you're worthless," according to a study by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the Chance to Shine charity.
Of the 1,002 children aged 8-16 surveyed 45%, said their parents' behavior made them not want to take part in playing sports. About the same percentage, 41.5%, said their parents were critical of their actions on the field, with 16% saying it happens frequently.
The survey also made discoveries concerning parents' actions toward others while watching their children play. According to those findings, 40.6% of participants said they had witnessed a parent abusing a coach, 20.7% said they had seen a parent abusing another child in order to help their own, and 20.5% said they had witnessed a parent abusing a child on another team, writes Javier Espinoza for The Telegraph.
Almost half of those surveyed said that having their parent watch them play did not make them perform any better. Over one-third of those surveyed, 39.6%, said having their parents there helped them to play better, and 12.4% said that it actually made them do worse.
In addition, slightly over half of survey participants said they felt that winning a game meant the same thing to them as it did to their parents, while 25.7% said winning meant more to their parents and 22.9% said it meant more to them to win a game.
On a positive note, 66.1% of children surveyed said they felt happy when their parents came to watch them, and 51.4% said it made them feel proud.
Luke Swanson, chief executive of Chance to Shine, added, "This research confirms the central role of parents in supporting their children to play and enjoy sport. At the same time it suggests that, all too often, we can curb their enthusiasm. This is a wake-up call to anyone who supports their children from the boundary, the touchline or the courtside."
As a result of the survey, MCC and Chance to Shine announced a new nationwide program they will be implementing in schools in order to encourage fair play and healthy competition. The program will include assemblies and lessons on how to play sports competitively while at the same time maintaining a sporting manner, for 350,000 children at over 5,000 schools.
"We also talk to them about the importance of respecting their opponents, the umpires or referees and their own team-mates. We want them to be competitive but there is a line that shouldn't be crossed. That applies to children as well as to any pushy parents watching them," said Chance to Shine coaching ambassador, England cricketer Kate Cross.