KUSA - Sports are supposed to be fun. They are a great way for kids to play with one another and to learn to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
But when parental anger gets in the way, the results can be devastating. Research shows that both boys and girls are negatively affected by displays of parent anger at youth sporting events, with girls being more affected more than boys.
Typically, parents get upset for one of three reasons—they perceive someone is being uncaring toward their child, they think something unjust has happened in the game, or they see their child performing "incompetently."
Regardless of the cause, parent anger has an effect on all of the children on the field. Psychologists refer to this as "background anger," where children are exposed to angry outbursts but are not the direct recipients of that anger.
In other words, that parent who is yelling at his kid is also negatively affecting your kid.
If you find yourself in a situation where another parent is angry at a sporting event, there are a few things you can try:
- Attempt to understand why the parent is angry. Think about the uncaring/unjust/incompetent reasons mentioned above. Is this why the parent is upset? What else is going on in that parent's life? Does he have stress at work? Is he hungry? Is he just a jerk? By understanding where the parent is coming from, it will make it easier for you to address the issue with the individual.
- Do not respond with anger. Remember, your goal is to de-escalate the situation, not make it worse. By adding to the background anger, you will actually increase the likelihood that your kids will be negatively affected.
- If the person cannot relax, even after a calm intervention, you should get the coach or the referee involved. It may be that an authority figure needs to ask the person to leave.
- Always keep in mind, there are rare situations where the person who is upset is actually dangerous. If you suspect this might be the case, confrontation is unwise. Instead, try to distance yourself and your children from the person.
(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)