Chapter 2

Reveal the CHILD you hide in you!

Unfortunately, though, insecurities and fears is not exclusively a privilege of adult guardians. Children are also human beings and –in fact- quite vulnerable and dependent on their protector’s character and behavioral approaches. Consequently, the prospect of cooperating with their guardians in some sport activity might be a little scary and bring up multiple troubling issues, such as:

  • Expectations: We’ve all been there. Childhood is definitely a great period of one’s life, when minors are being protected, supported and discharge of major responsibilities and tasks. They are supposed to focus on developing their body and mind, forming their personalities and building their characters. So, is it always light and carefree? Well, the answer is no! Children are often burdened with a lot of stress and the sense of responsibility to serve the expectations of their guardians who monitor and observe their progress, to present satisfying –if not magnificent! – results and receive their approval. And having a good performance in the sports field belongs to the exact same category and becomes even more stressful when the guardian is not only present, but actually involved in the activity. What a nightmare for a child’s mind!

The magic antidote – PROMOTE SUPPORT: Once again it is time to change the focus point and deflect any negative feelings or fears. It is important to use the joint sport activity to promote mutual support between children and their guardians, to make them both understand that any outcome is the result of their joint effort and the only expectation they should both have is to enjoy their time together, build their bond even stronger and appreciate the benefits of sports in their physical and mental health. Acceptance, understanding and respect should be their flags and disappointment and failure should be sent knock-out!


  • Excessive intervention: How bossy guardians can be and who hasn’t experienced this when being a child? Now, imagine that this excessive power of guardians is transferred in the safe environment of a sports activity, especially with the guardians playing an almost equal role with their children and they are invited to cooperate in the same team or for the same goal. Being figures of authority, guardians usually fail to set limits in their behavior and tend to overrule their children’s choices, become judgmental and patronizing. They don’t save their opinion and might at occasions even try to impose it over the weak party – the child. This pressure inevitably causes additional stress to the child who ends up suffering instead of enjoying their time.

The magic antidote – SET BOUNDARIES: Here comes the real authority in the game, who is no other than the coach, the trainer or any other sports person in charge of the activity. That person is expected to define the roles of everyone involved, maintain some balance among them and ensure that a safe, free and unhindered playful environment is created for everyone. With respect and consideration, they should not only counter any form of pressure that might cause some frustration to the child (fear, anxiety, pressure, dissatisfaction), but also to prevent these incidents to the highest possible extent.


  • Behavioral reflection: We are brought up with the idea that as children we are the reflection of our guardians, their image in the mirror. This idea might sometimes burden us with anxiety (or even guilt) when our guardians behave in a certain way that is –to say the least- not flattering. And that CAN be an issue when talking about FFS. Being used to authority and power, cooperating with their children in a relaxed and non-formal environment while practicing some sport activity, as well as competing with the real authority of this context (namely the coach or the trainer), guardians might fall into inconvenient judgmental behaviors towards the rest actors: children, coach, other guardians etc. How should the child react? Should they support their guardian (who is their protector, their carer, their source and target of love and dependence)? Or should they object and expose their guardian? What do we really expect from them? How can we release them of this anxiety?

The magic antidote – SET APART THE INDIVIDUALS: Once again this lies in the hands of the person in charge. It is crucial to deal with such a situation in a way that reassures the child that there is no consequence against them because of somebody else’s actions. That the coach’s/trainer’s behavior towards the child or the child’s role in the team is not negatively affected by their guardian’s false step. Put the guardian in their place, set your limits within the team and continue the interaction with everyone –especially with the child involved- as if no one else has been affected by the incident. For sure this would be a good and useful lesson for both sides: adults and children!