How to Help Your Young Athlete Get Along

It’s going to happen. Sooner or later, your child is going to disagree with teammates or coaches, whether about game strategy, playing time, or simply the color of the uniforms.

Of course you know it’s not possible to always agree with everyone, but how do you teach this to your child?

Let kids know they have a right to speak up.

Your child is allowed to have a view point and express it in a respectful way. The key is to help kids understand there may be appropriate times for certain conversations. Examine your child’s situation, and decide on the best time.

Process the situation.

Before your child confronts someone, talk through the scenario help him see what he can and cannot change. Let him practice expressing his viewpoint—while respecting someone else’s.

Remind kids to speak their truth.

Your young athlete’s objective should be to voice her opinions rather than try to convince someone else that she’s right.

Let children know speaking up takes courage.

Even adults shy away from tough conversations. Your child’s decision to speak out shows courage. Praise her for being brave.

Teach the value of listening.

This is a huge first step when it comes to developing strong relationships—especially with difficult people. Nothing can be resolved if the other person doesn’t feel heard.

Encourage empathy.

You never know what another person is going through, and this is important to share with your child. Maybe the coach is grumpy because he doesn’t feel good, or your daughter’s teammate is having trouble at home.

Teach your child to set boundaries.

Encourage your child to stand behind what she feels is right. Perhaps it’s the ability to say, “Please don’t talk to me that way,” if a teammate says something offensive. Or maybe it’s telling a coach about an illness or injury. Whatever the situation may be, help your young athlete understand her boundaries, and encourage her to speak up about them.



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

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