Sports Parenting: How to Avoid Creating a Sense of Entitlement

Sports participation can breed self-confidence – which is fantastic, but do your child’s coaches, teachers, future bosses and spouses a favor, and raise your children to grow without an entitled attitude.

There’s a lot of discussion about millennials who act entitled, which is likely due to how they were raised. Forbes Magazine recently had this to say: The idea is that millennials were raised by baby boomer and Gen X parents who spoiled them. They were awarded participation trophies just for showing up to competitive events, and had access to the internet–with virtually unlimited connective potential–in their childhood and early adult years. Accordingly, they grew up to believe that the world already owed them something, and complain when they don’t immediately get it.

I’ve talked with numerous business managers and owners who bemoan the entitled behavior they see in new, young hires. And after talking with one particular business owner about her struggles, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What are we doing to our kids?”

The answer is this: We are not taking advantage of the challenges that life brings their way to help them grow. There is no place where this is more evident than in the world of youth sports.

Of course, no parent wants to raise entitled kids who become even more entitled adults. But it’s been happening more often than not, because most parents are not made aware of how NOT to. To break this down simply, here’s how you can avoid creating entitled athletes:

  • Let your child learn to fight their own battles.
  • Set and enforce boundaries; don’t give in just because your children play sports.
  • Be consistent in your parenting, even if it affects their sports.
  • Teach your child the value and reward of earning things, including positions and playing time.
  • Let your child learn to work hard.
  • Let your child fail and learn from it.
  • Make children wait for things they want or things they want to do. They don’t have to be on the elite team when they are eight years old.
  • Teach your child how to give, save, and spend.
  • Stop giving in to children on a regular basis. Do they really need the most expensive equipment at age 10?

Fact is, you can change the tide of entitlement. Amy McCreedy, author of The Me, Me, Me Epidemic explains: As parents, we hold the key to eradicating this epidemic. There are powerful un-entitling tools we can use every day to turn the tide of entitlement in our kids and help them to grow into responsible, respectful, more empowered adults. Your kids and society will thank you!


Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at

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