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Determining Goals for Our Kids in Sports

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The "life lessons" portion of Responsible Sport Parenting starts with getting on the same page with our kids.

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Why do your children want to play youth sports? Why do they want to participate?

Once you consider those answers and recognize where you and your child agree and differ, you can establish common ground for conversations that will help you and your child get what you want from youth sports.

To start, let's talk about possible goals that you might have for your child. (And keep in mind, this is the beginning of a list – feel free to add others to the list.) Consider ranking them from 1-10 – what would be your top 3?

  • Become a good athlete
  • Learn to play the sport
  • Win
  • Gain self-confidence
  • Learn to deal with defeat
  • Physical fitness
  • Learn "life lessons"
  • Have fun
  • Make friends
  • Earn a college scholarship
  • Other (specify: ___________).

Now, consider asking this same question of your kids. What are their top 3? You might be surprised to see what they are thinking. Getting "level set" through this conversation helps both of you get on the same page. And in the end, that helps both of you get the most out of the youth sports experience.

The ranking exercise serves several purposes:

  • Helps us as parents articulate and prioritize our goals
  • Reminds us of the educational and character-development opportunities in youth sports
  • Helps us talk with our kids -- as equals and in a spirit of partnership -- about their goals.

What also is interesting about this exercise is the diversity of responses – of our fellow parents as well as our kids. Why did you rank what you did as number one? And what did you think of your child's number one ranking?

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