Parents’ Issues Checklist

By Dr. Darrell J. Burnett

The following parents issues checklist for teaching character and sportsmanship is short, but sweet. Answer YES or NO to the following 10 statements, tally up your score and see how you did.

  1. I maintain a “Fun is Number One” attitude in youth sports.
  2. I treat officials, coaches, my kids, their teammates, and their opponents, with respect, modeling manners for kids, avoiding put-downs, ridicule, or sarcasm.
  3. I praise my kids, their teammates, and their opponents, just for participating, regardless of their athletic skills.
  4. I remember to look for, and make a “big deal” out of positives with my kids, their teammates, and their opponents as a way of teaching character and encouraging personal health and wellness.
  5. I remain calm when my kids or their teammates make a mistake, but instead, help them to learn from it.
  6. I remind my kids and their teammates not to get down on themselves when things don’t go well in youth sports or other adolescent activities.
  7. I try not to take myself too seriously when it comes to my involvement in youth sports, reminding myself that there is life beyond youth sports whether my kids are playing athletic games for preschoolers or at the college level.
  8. I remind myself and my kids to laugh and keep a sense of humor.
  9. I emphasize teamwork in team sports with my kids, teaching them to think “we,” instead of “me.”
  10. I teach my kids by giving them a good example of good sportsmanship: winning without gloating, and losing without complaining.

Now, tally up your score. Which of these do you need to work on?

Dr. Darrell Burnett is a clinical psychologist and a certified sports psychologist specializing in youth sports. He has been in private practice for 25+ years in Laguna Niguel, California. His book, IT’S JUST A GAME! (Youth, Sports, & Self Esteem: A Guide for Parents), is described at his website,, along with his other books, booklets and CDs on youth sports and family life.