The Only 6 Words Parents Need To Say Their Kids About Sports

Sports have such potential to build character, perseverance, and skill. Sometimes they succeed, and other times coaches, parents, and mobs of hot-or-cold fans burn out or puff up kids in quite damaging ways. So what is the best way to achieve a positive outcome?

Brad M. Griffin of the Fuller Youth Institute talks about stumbling across Tim Elmore, of Growing Leaders, fantastic article. In it, he discusses research on what parents can say both before and after the game to encourage their kids, without making everything about performance (either positively or negatively).

Elmore suggests:

Based on psychological research, the three healthiest statements moms and dads can make as kids perform are:

Before the Competition:

  • Have fun.
  • Play hard.
  • I love you.

After the competition:

  • Did you have fun?
  • I’m proud of you.
  • I love you.

It gets even better. Researchers Bruce Brown and Rob Miller asked college athletes what their parents said that made them feel great and brought them joy when they played sports. Want to know the six words they most want to hear their parents say?

“I love to watch you play.”

That’s it. Nothing aggrandizing like “you’re an all-star,” and nothing discouraging like “here are a couple of things I noticed that you can work on.” Just “I love to watch you play.”


Read both articles here:

Brad M Griffin:

Tim Elmore:

What Parents Should Say as Their Kids Perform