Parental Influences on Children in Sports

A parent's role in his children's sporting activities can be either positive or negative. Positive things parents do to facilitate their children's involvement in sporting activities include taking them to practices, paying for the activities, encouraging them and providing unconditional acceptance and support. Making winning the most important thing, having unrealistic expectations and criticizing children are examples of ways parents can negatively impact their children's sports participation.


Regardless of how active parents are themselves, encouraging children to be active in sports provides a positive influence. As part of the Amherst Health and Activity Study, 612 children enrolled in physical education and their parents completed a questionnaire about their level of physical activity 1. In addition, parents were questioned about how much they encouraged their children's participation in sports. While the parents' levels of physical activity did not influence their children's involvement in sporting activities, the amount of encouragement parents gave their children was positively associated both with how many sporting activities children were involved with and how confident children felt doing these activities.

First Introduction

The first exposure many children get to sporting activities is through their parents. Playing catch with your children in the backyard after supper instead of allowing them to watch television instills fitness habits often lasting a lifetime. Attending your child's first sporting activities shows them you are supportive and shapes their attitudes toward sports in general. Discuss how proud you are of their accomplishments, regardless of whether they win or lose.

Providing Financial Support

Parents provide the funds necessary for their children to experience different sporting activities. Budgeting to enthusiastically include these activities shows your child that you value his sporting activities as much as he does. Older children beginning around age 10 can offset part of the cost of sporting activities through contributing part of their allowance or completing household chores.

Providing Transportation

Encourage your child's participation in sporting activities by scheduling time to drive her to the activities. Children are sensitive to stress in the home and if they perceive that transporting them to sporting activities is inconvenient, they will not be as enthusiastic to participate. Make the time in the car a special time to share with your child and you will bond more closely.