Dear Tauna, There's a parent who constantly yells at the kids on my sons team but he really targets my son. How can I get him to stop?
Criticism is one of the most difficult aspects of sports and life. I am an adult and a seasoned athlete/warrior and it still makes me pause. In fact, that is why until now I've been hesitant to appear in a public forum and have preferred to offer guidance to only those who sought me out. Sometimes in the heat of the moment of a game, a competitive parent can be mean, especially when they try to bolster their own position (or their child’s). No one like’s criticism, and it’s particularly inappropriate when it’s used to demean. So how do you deal with someone openly criticizing your child?
There is, in my experience, a process to go through in handling anyone who is abusive. First, talk to the parent directly, saying something like, “I know you don’t mean it but your comments about my child really hurts his feelings.” Most parents will try and correct their behavior but there are a few nuts out there who think it’s appropriate to heckle a child. In that case, when the comments continue, use peer pressure. Make sure there are a group of parents around, when you make another appeal to the heckling parent. As a whole most parents would back you up and start looking for and correcting the “heckler.”
If the parent won’t stop, and yes they are out there, go to the coach. Remember there is strength in numbers, so get other parents to go with you. Don’t complain just about your child (big mistake). The coach will usually listen when the behavior affects several children and could negatively impact the team.