Regardless of whether or not this is your first involvement as a Little Athletics parent, it is always worthwhile, at the start of each season, to consider what your role will be over the next six months or so.
Your child is in a sport that provides an opportunity for immediate and long term benefits. The benefits include: higher levels of fitness; better health; a pleasurable social environment and the satisfaction derived from skilled performances. Little Athletics can provide a launching pad for a life-long involvement in sport, whether it be elite or purely recreational.
Just as important as any of the above benefits is that Little Athletics provides children with the chance to have fun - TO PLAY. Please do not ever lose sight of this!
Unfortunately, all of the potential benefits of involving a child in a sport can be quickly lost due to one very important factor - ADULTS.
Do not underestimate the effect that you can have on your child’s long term participation in and enjoyment of sport. By taking a considered, understanding approach, a parent can be their child’s most valuable asset.
On the other hand, parents who bribe, threaten punishment, push their children, or hang over the fence screaming, have totally lost a true understanding of Little Athletics. Fortunately, these ‘clowns’ as Denis Baker in his book, ‘Winning is Kids’ Stuff’ terms them, are few and far between.
You must realise, however, that you don’t have to be a ‘screamer’ to have a subtle negative effect on your child in sport.
All too often, adults attempt to impose their own values on children’s’ sport. Do not assume that children play sport for the same reason that adults do. For example, when surveyed, a large number of children list ‘beating opponents’ and ‘receiving medals and trophies’ as last on a ranking of ten enjoyment factors in sport. Children are not little adults and their sport should be free from adult pressures and demands.
Denis Baker has some valuable advice about putting childrens’ sport into perspective:-
“ Remember, when kids play sport - they are not a team of professionals
- don’t deprive them of the opportunity to be kids.
When you start getting too serious about a kid’s game,
for heaven’s sake walk away.
You will inevitably be more worried about what is happening than the kids.”
(Taken from the Australian Little Athletics Association Inc website)
Baker, Denis; ‘Winning is Kid’s Stuff’, 1988 Collins Dove, Victoria
Australian Sports Commission, ‘Coaching Children’, 1992, Australian Coaching Council, Canberra