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Hot Questions Parenting Olga Galan David Conroy

David Conroy

David Conroy
David E. Conroy, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at The Pennsylvania State University. He is a Certified Consultant by the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology and a member of the United States Olympic Committee's Sport Psychology Registry. Dr. Conroy's expertise centers around achievement motivation and interpersonal processes in sport (particularly youth sport). His research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In 2002, Dr. Conroy received the Prince de Merode Prize for Behavioral Research from the International Olympic Committee for his research on the interpersonal origins of self-talk.

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Questions
1.   What's the most important lesson a parent can give to a child about their playing?  
2.   Our coach seems to have a favorite group of players who he lets play as much as they want. Other kids (including mine) don't get their fair share. How should I deal with this issue?  
3.   My 11-year old son used to be gung ho about his games, but this season he seems to be uninterested. What's going on?  
4.   I don't know that much about the game, but I want to help my daughter be a better player. What are some things I can do to help her performance?  
5.   I think my husband is pressuring my son too much to play baseball and is taking all the fun out of things. He ignores my suggestions to back off. Is there anything I can do?  
6.   My 13-year old son is a fantastic player and plays on three different teams, including a traveling team. I worry that baseball is taking over his life. How can I tell if he's got too much on his plate?  
7.   I want my folks to get me private coaching lessons to improve my game, but they say it's too expensive. Other kids on the team have them. How important is it to have a tutor?  
8.   Our coach is really into the game and he's always getting excited and emotional. I get a little frightened of him, because he can suddenly get in a really bad mood. How should I handle this?  

Answers

Q. What's the most important lesson a parent can give to a child about their playing?

The best thing that parents can teach their kids through sport is that they love them regardless of whether they win or lose and that they will be there for them when things are going well as well as when things aren't going well.

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Q. Our coach seems to have a favorite group of players who he lets play as much as they want. Other kids (including mine) don't get their fair share. How should I deal with this issue?

Talk to the coach directly and in private. Don't go through your kid or bad mouth the coach in front of your child. You can teach your child an important lesson about dealing with adversity gracefully depending on how you handle this difficult and frustrating situation.

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Q. My 11-year old son used to be gung ho about his games, but this season he seems to be uninterested. What's going on?

There could be any number of things happening - his friends may not be playing, he may have had a bad experience playing sports that he has kept to himself, he may be starting puberty and feeling uncomfortable with how his body is changing (particularly if he just had a growth spurt and feels a bit uncoordinated), to name just a few. You should talk with him so you can understand his reasons but then you should respect those reasons. Forcing your child to participate will undermine his motivation. That doesn't mean that you should allow him to sit home and play video games all afternoon - you can insist that he becomes involved in some constructive developmental activity (e.g., after-school club, music, drama, another sport) but he should be the one to pick what that activity is.

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Q. I don't know that much about the game, but I want to help my daughter be a better player. What are some things I can do to help her performance?

Go get a book about the sport so you know what is happening during games. Ask the coach if there is anything you can do with her at home to help practice things that are being emphasized by the coach. Don't try to become a second coach or to teach your daughter a different way of doing things. The best thing you can do here is to keep it simple for your daughter by being supportive and not confusing her by becoming another coach.

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Q. I think my husband is pressuring my son too much to play baseball and is taking all the fun out of things. He ignores my suggestions to back off. Is there anything I can do?

Talk to your husband some more to find out why he is putting so much pressure on your son. He may not yet understand how much this concerns you. You can also try talking to your son to see if he feels pressure from his dad. Let him know that you want him to feel comfortable and make sure he understands that he can talk with you about those things without getting in trouble.

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Q. My 13-year old son is a fantastic player and plays on three different teams, including a traveling team. I worry that baseball is taking over his life. How can I tell if he's got too much on his plate?

Is it his choice to be involved on all of those teams? Is he having fun with baseball? Is he getting enough rest to prevent maladaptive fatigue and burnout? Are the coaches creating a positive environment for the players? If it is his choice, he is having fun, he is getting enough rest, and the coaches are creating a positive environment, then his involvement is probably a good thing. If your answer to one or more of those questions is "no," then you may want to think about helping him to change his level of involvement.

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Q. I want my folks to get me private coaching lessons to improve my game, but they say it's too expensive. Other kids on the team have them. How important is it to have a tutor?

That depends on your situation and the sport. For children, the most important thing is to try out a lot of activities - private lessons are generally not appropriate at that level. After sampling a variety of activities, youth often choose to specialize in one activity. I recommend postponing this specialization stage as long as possible - there is much to be gained from being involved with multiple sports (e.g., developing broader physical competencies, exposure to more peers). Even after you decide to specialize, that does not mean that private lessons are necessary right away. You can practice and play more of that activity exclusively without having the expense of private lessons. Eventually, it may be appropriate to get some private coaching; however, that should be a family decision because the costs will add up quickly and become a substantial investment.

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Q. Our coach is really into the game and he's always getting excited and emotional. I get a little frightened of him, because he can suddenly get in a really bad mood. How should I handle this?

Try to approach the coach after a practice when everybody is done. Tell him how some of his behaviors make it difficult for you to feel comfortable performing. Don't approach him about this during a game because he will be emotional and may not respond well.

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How do you inspire a kid who's not living up to his potential? Click to read more!

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