The dangers of being a pushy parent

As a parent of a sporty child, do you know where the line is between supportive and pushy? Parents are understandably always seeking what’s best for their child, be it in an educational, social or sporting capacity. However, it is sometimes the case in the sporting world, that parents can overstep the mark in desiring success for their children. But what impact do pushy parents have on their children?

Parents enjoy being a part of their child’s life but when does this involvement become too much in terms of sports training? Kids play sport initially to have fun, expand their social skills, learn and keep fit. When a parent pushes too far, the child can experience stress, activity avoidance, low mood and sometimes even bad behaviour.

Some parents may not realise the effect of their behaviour, simply wanting for their child what they never had growing up. Some adults try to live their dreams through their children and some are just so competitive that they constantly seek to outdo friends, neighbours or family.

Studies have shown that children who receive positive feedback from their parents have increased levels of athletic success and are more motivated. Two types of parenting were identified – responsiveness and demandingness. Responsive parents are those who respond to the needs of their child and offer support, while demanding parents are controlling, issue orders to be obeyed and supervise their children closely. This is the type of behaviour that ends in pushy parenting.

The sad fact is that pushy parents are more likely to push their child away from sporting activity for life. This leads to a drop in youth sport engagement and has negative impacts on the future mental and physical wellbeing of that child.

The wider impact affects larger areas of the community and sporting world too, not just the child involved. Arguing with referees, coaches, opposition players and fans, for example is creating a very negative environment for all those involved. This kind of behaviour can deter all the children in pursuing the sports they enjoy the most.

It’s important for parents to take a step back and provide nurturing support without controlling what goes on. Those who want to see their children succeed need to focus on keeping an element of fun in the activity or risk putting their children off for life with too much pressure and training too young. If a parent wants to assist in training, then offer something positive like access to Soccer Drills videos from a site like 

A recent experiment from a grassroots football team involved the coach counting the number of time instructions were yelled from the sidelines from parents. There were 134 in just 40 minutes of the game. None of them included positive praise and most were distracting and contradictory! How would an adult like it if their boss or colleague did a similar while they at work? No wonder children stop enjoying sport and this is a major problem for both grassroots sporting organisations, who are seeing a decline in participation as well as the children.