The transformation that happens when parents watch their kids play youth sports can be drastic. A “great dad” or an “awesome mom” can morph into a belligerent spectator once they let frustration and anger rule their actions. Ultimately, these parents become the youth sports version of the Incredible Hulk.
In the fictitious comic, Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk whenever his heart rate rises above 200 after a science experiment goes wrong Do you ever feel your blood pressure rising during a game as you watch your child sit on the bench? What about when your anger grows as you witness bad calls from officials?
The transformation may be gradual or sudden, but if you let it build, it will eventually explode and the Hulk will appear. Becoming the Hulk may give you brief venting pleasure, but it will not help your child reach his or her potential. However, trying to keep the Hulk away means that you must fight the same problems Banner did. To keep your cool, you must keep your heart rate down and the only way to do that is to dig deeper and address the reasons you feel like venting.
What causes your Hulk-like transformation?
The reasons vary but likely stem from parental ego, the need for control, the desire to see your child shine, and, underneath all of those, a very real love for your child. The first question to ask yourself as you strive to keep the Hulk away is this: what is the best way for me to help my child reach his potential? What steps can I take to help her succeed on their own?
Obviously, you are not doing anything to help when you become the Hulk at your child's game. As you ask this question, let it be a time for extreme self-evaluation and a heart-to-heart with your young athlete. What are her goals? How hard is he willing to work to achieve those goals? What does your child want from you in terms of support?
The second question is one that every sports parent should ask, Hulk or not: what do I want my child to learn and remember from his youth sports experience?
I’m pretty sure that you don’t want your child’s strongest memories to be of you going crazy in the stands or on the sidelines. And I would hope that you want your child’s youth sports experience to produce character growth that will last a lifetime and make the money you spent worthwhile.
These two questions are ones you may have to ask yourself before every game or whenever you feel yourself starting to slip into Hulk mode. Fighting off the Big Green Guy is not an easy task, but for the sake of your child’s success and enjoyment of playing, it’s best that your Hulk not be allowed into the game.
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