The Quality Parenting Framework was published last week by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee in a genuine effort to promote and encourage the appropriate quality of parent involvement in youth sport. The Framework, authored by leading researchers from the United States and abroad, provides important clarity for parents interested in supporting their child's athletic endeavors.
The Introduction to the Quality Parenting Framework says "The appropriate quality of parent involvement can help youth reach their athletic and human potential while fostering a lifelong love of sport and physical activity." At Soccer Parenting and The Sideline Project we are thrilled with this new Framework as it strongly amplifies our messaging and validates and supports the work we are doing to make youth sports better.
The Quality Parenting Framework (a link to download is below) is divided into five parts and each part has a list associated with it. I will summarize the parts and lists here:
5 Parts of the Framework
1. Understanding Parent Roles
2. Adopting an Athlete-focused Approach
3. Supporting Physical Development
4. Supporting Socio-Emotional Development
5. Six Contexts of Sport Parent Involvement
Understanding Parent Roles
The Quality Parenting Framework highlights three roles parents adopt as a sports parent:
1. Parents are ROLEMODELS - young athletes keenly observe their parents' actions, attitudes and behaviors and use these observations to affect how they feel about their involvement in sport.
2. Parents are PROVIDERS - through our actions and behaviors we determine what sports our children will participate in and enable or discourage opportunities.
3. Parents are INTERPRETERS - our children interpret messages from what we say or how we behave into beliefs about their own ability.
Adopting an Athlete-Focused Approach
The Quality Parenting Framework provides a number of ways parents can support their child with their sports endeavors making sure the focus is on the athlete and what they want, not what the parent wants. We focus quite a bit on these topics at SoccerParenting.com and are thrilled to see the USOPC providing guidance and support for parents and encouraging parents to reflect on their behaviors in order to best support their child.
The Framework suggests parents:
1. Create a safe environment for communication
2. Listen actively
3. Ask with athlete-focused intent
4. Identify and engage in the best forms of support
5. Explore and engage in multiple sports parenting roles
6. Allow for autonomy in athletes' decision-making
7. Engage purposefully, and with care
Supporting Physical Development
More than ever before with children being over-scheduled and therefore not playing outside with friends plus the decline in PE classes in schools, parents need to be aware of physical development skills and thoughtful about their child and how they are developing.
Learn more about the
Our Youth Soccer Education Platform for Parents and Coaches.
The Quality Parenting Framework provides some thoughtful, research-based guidance to parents on the following topics:
1. Foundational motor skill development is important - Our children have movement skill deficiencies, and it's the responsibility of the parent to be aware of what proper motor skill development looks like.
2. Parents don't have to answer the 'sport sampling" versus specialization debate - The research is clear that specialization at young ages is not needed or even recommended for high level participation in a sport, children should lead the way.
3. Training load patterns and progressions should be implemented strategically. The amount of time our children participate in organized sport and the intensity in which they are asked to compete should be age and developmentally appropriate.
Supporting Socio-Emotional Development
The Framework suggests that there are four key areas parents need to learn more about in order to best facilitate the sports experience of the child being one that provides socio-emotional development. At SoccerParenting.com we always say that the number one responsibility of the parent is to choose the environment in which your child is participating in sport and to ensure it meets their needs from a physical potential and mental performance standpoint. With that in mind, parents need to be aware of how kids learn to ensure the environment in which their child is participating support learning.
The Quality Parenting Framework amplifies this message, encouraging parents to learn more about these four areas:
1. There are pros and cons to participating in organized sport.
3. There is great value in engaging parents in education and training.
4. Parents should be expected to contribute positively to the coach-athlete relationship.
Six Contexts of Sport Parent Involvement
Parent involvement that demonstrates involvement, interest, and concern have the potential to foster athletes' enjoyment and continued participation. Those actions should vary depending on individual and contextual factors, including the skill and developmental state of the athlete and competition level of the sport.
There are effective ways for parents to be involved in sport in order to support an athletes love of the game and overall positive experience. Much of our work at SoccerParenting.com involves supporting our 200+ club partners when it comes to clarifying the role of the parent in their organization and providing coach education around effective parent engagement practices.
The Quality Parenting Framework uses the research of Epstein and his 6 contexts of parenting to highlight key areas where parents should be involved.
1. Parenting - the influence of the parent can not be ignored and should instead be supporting with directing positive behaviors that will support long team enjoyment of sport.
2. Communicating - how parents interact with their children around sport is important.
3. Volunteering - getting involved in their sports experience of their child will lead to a strong sense of community and connection.
4. Learning at Home - playing outside with your child, watching the sport together on tv, talking about a previous performance are important ways parents can influence.
5. Decision-Making - deciding what environment a child will participate in and being clear on what a good learning environment looks like.
6. Collaborating with Others - at SoccerParenting.com we believe that collaborative relationships between coaches, clubs, parents and players is in the best interest of player development and the Framework amplifies this.
The USOPC Quality Parenting Framework is a fantastic step towards an improved sporting experience for our children and we applaud their leadership in developing this framework. It is a highly researched focused approach to quality sports parenting, and more than anything - continues to draw awareness to the essential role of the sports parent.