Can Parents Be Coaches to Kids?

As parents, we know how important physical activity is for our children, particularly in their early development.

While it is not uncommon to see parents as professional coaches to their athlete children in the sports industry, most parents are probably not pursuing a coach career, or grooming our children to become national athletes.

That said, as guardian and primary carer to our kids, it is impossible not to be involved in their activities out of school time, in one way or another. Can parents be coaches to kids in their daily life and activities, and how can we perform this role better?

Just like how sport coaches play a vital role in the development of athletes on and off the field, parents as children’s life coaches can have an imaginable influence, both positively and negatively.

According to research, some advantages of being a parent-coach include:

  • Co-building shared experiences and memories
  • Personally imparting valuable life skills and values to the child
  • Spending more time to bond with the child
  • Being able to understand and meet the child’s needs better than anyone else

On the other hand, disadvantages include (but are not limited to):

  • Extra pressure for the child to perform well, to meet the parent’s expectations
  • Parents being harder on their own children, and setting unrealistic expectations
  • Giving in more easily to disagreement and frustration, leading to possibility of negative emotions spilling over to family relationship

Expert consensus is to maintain balance. The ability to switch “on and off”, between coach and parent, between moments when we need to discipline our kids and when we should enjoy family moments together.

Communication is another key to making the parent-coach role work. Take time to understand our kids’ goals and preferences. There is even recommendation to let our children initiate regular conversation, instead of always being one-sided talk-downs by parents. This allows our children to express “when they need their parents to be a parent, and when they want the parent as a coach”.

Recognizing that there is no one formula suits all, each parent will need their own tailored approach to become that best coach to their kid in life.

What happens if you are a working (or barely sporty) parent, but want to be involved in your kid’s activities? Fret not, as some parents in Singapore have shown us how they manage their priorities and time.

Read about them here:

ActiveSG’s My 1st Coach programme is a great avenue to help you get started. Find out more here.

Topics: Support, Sport Development