Every parent thinks their kid is the next Tiger Woods. Wayne Gretsky scored 378 goals as a 10-year-old. Nadia Comenci was a 15-year-old gymnast from Romania when she scored the first perfect 10 in Olympics competition. Surely your kid has the same potential?
Many parents hope their children’s athletic prowess will provide for them in their old age and are investing today, wealthy parents including the Shoensee’s of Cape Coral, Florida going as far as to install a $120,000 93x40 foot soccer field in their backyard to supplement their son’s thrice-weekly practices with a pro. Ice rinks and gymnasiums can’t be far behind.
Houston parenting expert Randi Rubenstein says kids should be given the space to be kids without undue pressure to be sports superstars. “The job of the parent is to be the “guide on the side’ not the ‘sage on the stage,’” she says. “We find parents that pressure their kids with great intensity usually cause the kid to burn out.”
Sure, LeBron James was a talented kid in high school, and signed a four-year contact with the Lakers for $154 million earlier this year, but it wasn’t his mother’s persistence courtside that made him the best player in the NFL – it was his own.
Some parents need to back off.
By the same token, suggests Rubenstein, there is immeasurable advantage to keeping children involved in organized team sports. “There is a lot of opportunity that they have in this modern day to become couch potatoes. Organized sports can often get them off the couch and around other kids.” That socialization may be more valuable than the physical skills they develop playing a sport.