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The Informed Parent

Parent Fan Rage

by John H. Samson, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Sep. 10, 2001

I am sure you have read recent newspaper accounts of parents brawling after their children’s sports contests. It could be soccer, baseball, football or basketball. I have personally witnessed this sort of squabbling after an elementary level basketball game and again at a high school varsity championship round ball contest.

One does not have to be a rocket scientist to realize how demoralizing and confusing such a scene is for the players. We cannot instruct our youngsters with a double standard. Athletes and participants are told that unsportsmanship-like behavior is neither appropriate nor tolerated. What happens when their so-called mature coaches and/or parents wallow in intolerable sportsmanship? The mixed message becomes a very confusing code of conduct. It obviously leads to similar outbursts from the young impressionable players. They will do what you do — not what you say.

If parents cannot restrain themselves from rage behavior, they must get counseling. This is eminently important in order for them to attend their child’s games. To simply stop going to the contests gives a poor message to their child who wants and needs the parents there. The children deserve to have you there, unless work precludes your attendance.

It is most important for you to get professional help if you recognize yourself as having this out-of-control personality. Your behavior significantly influences your children’s behavior. In particular, as a dad you positively influence your son’s behavior. If dad is rude, insulting or ready to pick a fight, his son will emulate him.

What Can Be Done to Help Dad?

  • Don’t consume alcohol before or during your children’s contests or performances.
  • Learn rage control from your physician or psychologist.
  • Sometimes medication needs to be prescribed or discontinued.
  • If you find yourself “losing it,” go for a walk. Leave the field area before you cause an altercation.

Your children deserve your support, not your bad example. Always remember, offspring do as you do…NOT as you say.

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