According to Smoll and Smith, there are two basic attitudes toward competition; an ego attitude and a mastery attitude. Parents who have an ego attitude toward their own competition -that is, they compete to win and to be better than others – are especially likely to be competitive with other parents about their childs achievements. Essentially, the parent goes from being proud to being boastful.
These, then, are the four psychological factors that must be recognized as we try to understand the youth sports experience of families: the identification of the parent with the child, the tendency of parents to fantasize about their childs potential, the sense of youth sport as an investment, and competitiveness between parents. Combined, these factors drive many parents to push their child to excel, and to take action when they feel that their childs potential is being ignored or inhibited.
The unfortunate result is children who are over-stressed, whose self-esteem is based on winning, and whose parents are teaching them that their love and support is conditional.
While this book is not perfect, I believe it would be an excellent addition to any sport psychology class. There are some parts that are a little overly “technical” in terms of psychological and physiological terminology, but on the whole, it is a very “reader friendly” book that makes a lot of unique and interesting points. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in how children and their parents are effected by sports, and vice versa.
Smoll, F.L., & Smith, R.E. (2002) Children and Youth in Sport: a Biopsychosocial Perspective 2nd ed. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co..