For hockey parents, controlling your emotions is a must—for your child’s sake
By Tim Turk
Controlling your emotions. For most of us, that’s easier said than done. Any parent that decides to enroll their child in organized sports always does so for a number of reasons. First, it’s a great social environment for your child in which to develop teamwork and make friends with other children their age. Second, it’s a fantastic way for your child to get exercise every week while having fun; it promotes a healthy lifestyle. Third, having your child develop a sense of winning and losing gracefully will be helpful to them for the rest of their life. There are obviously other more unique reasons, but those are the most common.
Crossing the Line of Acceptable Behavior
For those reasons mentioned above, along with the obvious reason of unconditional love, a parent who has a child in organized sports will always be emotionally invested in seeing their child play. Hockey of course is no exception to this rule. But I’m sure we can all agree that there is a line of acceptable behavior that hockey parents sometimes cross. The line that forbids screaming from the stands at the kids playing in a youth hockey game, insulting other players and their parents, and even berating and insulting the coaches or referees during a game.
Sure, there are things that would upset any parent with a child in youth hockey, like them being injured either accidentally or on purpose; not getting enough ice time; or being spoken rudely to by the other members of their team. But the important thing in these situations, for you as a parent, is controlling your emotions of anger, frustration, and passion, and to deal with them in an effective way. This prevents the line from being crossed and—trust me—the other hockey parents and even your own child will thank you!
Remember that Hockey is Just a Game
As a hockey parent, the most helpful thing to consider when controlling your emotions is that hockey is just a game. The point—for parents and players alike—is to have fun. After all, that’s the main reason why most kids sign up for hockey in the first place. Engaging in improper behavior in any regard can not only ruin the experience for you and your child, but for everyone else as well. So next time a situation at hockey practice or during a game irritates you, try to keep in mind that hockey is supposed to be about the fun. The best course of action is to deal with the situation calmly, so that everyone can get back to enjoying the hockey experience as soon as possible.
Keep a Healthy Perspective
Let’s say your child gets talked down to by another player, parent, or even their own coach. As a parent myself, this would bother me to no end. Of course, there is no excuse for bullying or being rude in hockey, regardless of your position. However, not everyone considers that point, and unfortunately it may still happen.
If it does, one of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to first take a deep breath and think about the situation. Consider that a fellow member of the team may have said something mean to your child because they’re being bullied at their school or having trouble at home. The same goes for a parent or a coach who says something brash or mean; it stems from their own situation which people will seldom consider.
While these things are not excuses for behaving poorly, they certainly could be reasons for it. Keeping in perspective that people are rude or mean because they might have personal problems (not because they have it out for you or your child) can really help you keep a level head in the face of insult.
There are More Important Things than Winning!
It is crucial to remember that whether your child wins or loses their game, tournament, or season, they will still acquire a ton of skills from playing hockey that will benefit them for the rest of their life. The next time you feel upset over the result of a call or game, take a deep breath and try to remember all the positive things that hockey will do for your child, despite your being riled up in the moment.
Hockey teaches teamwork and social skills; it teaches respect, leadership, dignity, and grace. Not only that, but hockey will keep your child active and healthy for the entire time they play. Also, it will hopefully instill a lifelong desire for your child to remain active and healthy, whether that’s in the form of playing sports or otherwise.
So even if the devastating loss of a close, important hockey game might temporarily anger you and your child, just remember that there are more important things than winning. Focus on the valuable life skills your child will take away from the sport, and that will surely calm you down—at least to a level where you won’t overreact to the point of doing anything you’ll regret later.
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Everyone knows that controlling your emotions and the anger and frustration can be difficult, especially in an intense situation involving your own child. But that anger should never result in shouting, violence, or berating others. Hopefully the tips mentioned above will help ensure that doesn’t happen. That way, everyone can enjoy the youth hockey experience—players, parents, and coaches alike.
Tim Turk has been an NHL-level skills and shooting coach for over 18 years. He works with many organizations, teams, coaches, and players of all ages and levels from around the world. Turk has worked with the Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Carolina Hurricanes, as well as with many national programs overseas. He continues to work with NHL players while making time for minor league hockey teams and players. For more information visit his website, www.timturkhockey.com.