Friendships are an important part of life, and friendships can have a tremendous impact on our personal well-being and overall mental and physical health. Social isolation can lead to depression and loneliness. The relationships that we build with our family and friends can affect the quality of the friendships that we develop over our lifetimes. Some people thrive socially and develop deep, meaningful connections with others, while others only maintain distant friendships. However, it is important for us to help our children learn to develop these important social skills. Researchers have long documented links between the quality of relationships between family members and their relationships with their peers. Participation in team sports can have lasting benefits, including responsible social behaviors, good sportsmanship, strong leadership skills, academic success, and self-confidence.
When It Comes to Youth Sports, Parents Don’t Always Behave Themselves.
As team sports become more competitive, there is increased attention placed on the negative aspects of team sports, mainly parental expectations and behavior. Having spent a large part of my life sitting in the stands watching my children play team sports, I have developed deep, long-lasting friendships with the parents of my children’s friends. These friendships are often maintained between parents long after our children put away their soccer cleats. Of course, overbearing parents can take the fun out of sports for our children. Many children drop out of team sports because they are no longer having fun and participation becomes too stressful.
What Can Parents Do to Help Their Kids Develop Positive, Warm Friendships?
- Continue to nurture and support the friendships that you have established throughout your lifetime.
- Be a good sports parent by showing support to your child.
- Model good friendship skills. This will help youth understand social competence.
- Be happy and have fun at your child’s competitions.
- Minimize pressure & don’t coach your child from the sidelines.
- Nurture the youth’s ambitions, but don’t let them get too wrapped up in the competitiveness.
- Be respectful of your child’s teammates, coach, opponents, and the game’s rules and traditions.
It is our job as parents to teach our children social skills to help them grow as individuals, not just athletes. As parents it is our job to nurture their emotional and physical development. Even as adults we must continue to stay connected with our friends and families. As we grow older, good friendships can prevent loneliness, improve our health, boost our well-being, and even add years to our lives.