“I’ve found that what makes children happy doesn’t always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.”

–Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

  1. Promote good sleep and nutritional habits. Want to instantly improve their performance? Improve their sleep and nutritional habits. When your child’s performance is struggling, before you tell them to start working harder or you criticize the coach, reflect on whether you are helping or hurting them in their most critical areas of peak performance. Don’t believe me? Check out this video or this article. As parents, we are the #1 influencer on our kids’ diet and sleep habits, and without proper sleep or nutrition, it is impossible for them to compete close to their potential.


  1. Praise effort; celebrate achievement. Want to improve their performance and their chances of success later in life? Well, parents are also the #1 influence on the development of their mindset! We want our children to seek out and thrive on challenges (i.e., growth mindset), not avoid challenges and be afraid of failure (i.e., fixed mindset). So, in moments of achievement—or even failure—we need to be very intentional in the way we communicate our approval. I’ve written about the impact of this research before. The bottom line is this: We can celebrate the win and achievement, but we must also communicate that we are proud of them for the teammate they are, and the effort they give, not just the points they score, or the minutes they play!


  1. Let them fail. What struggles really matter? In Episode 90 of the Coaching Culture Podcast, guest Heath Eslinger encourages coaches and parents: “Stop saving kids from the struggle. We have to allow kids to struggle in the areas that matter the most.” Struggling with their jump shot or swing does not really matter; relationships and responsibilities do! Failure is the best teacher, but we have to let our kids experience it in these areas. Does this mean we let them fail alone? No, it means we let them figure it out as we walk with them through the experience. What’s that look like? By listening and asking questions. Here are some practical ways to support and empower them in their struggle.


  1. Establish, communicate, and enforce boundaries. Playing sports is a privilege. Practice is an opportunity to get better. My parents never had to beg, plead with, or complain to me about doing my schoolwork or chores. They established some standard non-negotiables, and they enforced them by pulling me off the team multiple times during my athletic career. Sometimes, it even cost the team, but I was the one who made the choice to not do my work, and so I needed to experience the consequences for my poor choices. Eventually, I figured it out!

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.”

Henry Cloud


  1. Love them. “I just want them to be happy.” I hear this a lot. It’s a problem that I’ve written about more here. I know every parent loves their child, but sometimes, the way we love them isn’t the best. Sometimes, our efforts to help or motivate them are really hurting them. We all have our struggles as parents, and areas we can work on. I’m not saying you or I are bad parents; I’m just saying we can all be better Let’s work on it!

I’ve got workshops for coaches AND sports parents! Learn more and book your workshop today


Also, you can check out some more of my articles for parents at ThriveOnChallenge.com and be sure to follow my friends at ilovetowatchyouplay on Facebook. They’ve got so much good content to help us be better parents!