Motivation and emotion/Book/2017/Parenting in youth sport
How can parents optimise youth participation, performance, and enjoyment in sport?
- 1 Overview
- 2 What do we all want from sport?
- 3 Self Determination Theory applied to sport
- 4 Goal orientation
- 5 Why do kids give up sport?
- 6 Parenting in sport isn't easy.
- 7 How can you use science to help you optimise your child's intrinsic motivation and enjoyment of sport?
- 8 Practical implications / Take home messages
- 9 Conclusion
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Do your kids play sport? What do you want for them from this experience?.
Parents are significant contributors to children's development. Many parents use sport as a vehicle to teach essential life skills that enable children to make an effective transition to adulthood. Being a parent is a difficult job and most parents, particularly when first involved in youth sport do not possess the knowledge, understanding and skills to effectively support their child whilst navigating the sporting arena (Harwood & Knight, 2015). This chapter aims to show how psychological science can provide tools to help you on this journey, ultimately creating an environment where children achieve optimal sporting participation, performance and enjoyment .
What do we all want from sport?
Why do parents want their children to play sport?
Parents use sport as a vehicle for children to gain life skills in their development to adulthood, enabling them to be a positive contributor to society (Harwood & Knight, 2015). In today's busy western world many parents view sport participation as a normal part of everyday life. The sporting envronment is a place where children can acquire physical skills, have social relationships, attain leadership qualities and develop moral character. It is also a rich platform for observational learning, development of achievement orientations and self perception.
Positive outcomes are not automatic consequences of playing sport. The sporting environment can also be a difficult place for parents, as they are torn between wanting their children to be the best they can be and negotiating how to be a supportive spectator (Holt, 2016). Parents invest time, energy and money to enable their children to play sport. It is therefore understandable that sometimes well meaning parents push children to achieve goals they believe are good for them. Possibly in competition or just to practice more in order to achieve better performance on another occasion. Without realising these actions place pressure their child and in the long run are unlikely to achieve the results they desire (Amado, Sánchez-Oliva, González-Ponce, Pulido-González, & Sánchez-Miguel, 2015).
Why do kids want to play sport ?
Motivation to play sport is multifaceted, with athletes usually having multiple reasons for participation. A recent meta analysis by Bailey, Cope & Pearce (2013) examined why children play sport. The common factors that emerged were:
- to experience fun and enjoyment, although what constitutes this is personal to each child.
- to learn new physical skills and to feel competent about skills.
- to experience social interaction with friends and peers and make new friends.
- influence from parents, role modelling or encouragement to participate.
What do kids think of their parents watching them play sport? Omli & Wiese-Bjornstal (2010) asked kids to tell them what they thought of parents sporting behaviour. Kids said they liked encouragement for mistakes, praise for hard work and cheering when it was for all. They loved attentive watching but not if argumentative, emotional or coaching from the sidelines. Critical encouragement with a frustrated tone was also upsetting. Elite junior canoeists had similar sentiments saying the timing of parental contributions often resulted in loss of focus although they were also very thankful for their parents efforts. Not surprisingly young athletes were the ones found to be most detrimentally affected by stress from adults in the sporting environment (Knight, Little, Harwood, & Goodger, 2016).
Watch this quick video on What kids think of parents watching their sporting events (YouTube).
Self Determination Theory applied to sport
Self Determination Theory (SDT) (Ryan & Deci, 2000) explains motivation and psychological need satisfaction. It posits motivation can be characterised on a continuum with intrinsic motivation (IM) at one end and a complete lack of motivation (amotivation) at the other. Picture a child who loves to play sport and another who doesn't recognise why they want to play, so doesn't. SDT postulates that satisfaction of the psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness are necessary to ensure IM. Athletes who develop these motivations experience more enjoyment, satisfaction and enjoyment from sport (Amado et al, 2015). SDT is an overarching theory with a substantial body of supporting research. Its popularity paradoxically has lead to its greatest criticism, that researchers treat it as perfect and ignore its limitations (Hassman, Keegan & Piggott, 2017).
What is intrinsic motivation?
Intrinsic motivation is the highest form of self regulation which involves carrying out a task purely for the inherent joy or interest it provides (think horseriding for those who love it). It is the reason all young animals and humans play, the natural basis for human learning. Intrinsically motivated children are engaged, actively seek novelty, strive for optimal challenge and are more likely to perform well and enjoy tasks. When intrinsic motivation is fostered throughout life, it creates vital happy adults who engage, show initiative, process information conceptually, have greater task persistence and overall mental wellbeing (Ryan & Deci, 2000).
What is extrinsic motivation?
Extrinsic motivation is the opposite of intrinsic motivation and the reason we perform the majority of tasks in society and sporting competition. It is the performance of a task to attain a separate reward or outcome (Ryan & Deci, 2000). It is easily explained by the carrot and stick mentality. A person completes a task not for the experience of doing it, but to achieve an external outcome they desire. In sport extrinsic motivators can be playing to win, awards, money, praise and status. Extrinsic motivation is a form of controlled motivation and is associated with lesser psychological health (Vansteenkiste, Lens, & Deci, 2006).
How do extrinsic motivators effect intrinsic motivation?
Many people believe that rewards increase motivation. It seems logical, if you want someone to do something you give them some sort of prize to make it worth their while. This happens everyday throughout the world right? Well, while some extrinsic rewards can have positive effects on behaviour, they almost always come with a hidden cost. That hidden cost is the loss of intrinsic motivation.
Yes, believe it or not those extrinsic motivators we all use actually reduce our natural innate desire to perform a behaviour. This has been replicated in real life studies over and over in areas from sport, education and the workplace (Deci, 1976). It gets worse! Rewards actually limit our learning ability. This is because when rewards are involved people generally short cut the system to take advantage of the reward and in doing so lose conceptual focus and meaning. Listen to Ed Deci one of the researchers responsible for Self Determination Theory explain why here.
|When intrinsic motivation is fostered throughout life, it creates vital happy adults who engage, show initiative, process information conceptually, have greater task persistence and overall mental wellbeing|
Autonomy is the psychological need to initiate and regulate our own behaviour and to perceive we have choices. The psychological need to feel as if what we choose is of our own volition and that our actions are our own. To engage autonomy, young athletes need opportunities to experience problem solving and decision making about their own self. Benefits of autonomy in a sporting environment are improved performance, enhanced conceptual understanding, task engagement, feelings of responsibility, improved self worth and overall psychological wellbeing (Ryan & Deci, 2000). When children perceive their parents are autonomy supportive they have enhanced intrinsic motivation (Jõesaar, Hein, & Hagger, 2012).
Competence is the psychological need to feel effective and achieve desired outcomes. It is a feeling of growth and flourishing from skills learnt over time (Ryan & Deci, 2000). This is the psychological need that encourages children to seek challenge, think strategically and be persistent. How difficult the challenge should be is important. The most effective amount for maximum enjoyment is optimal challenge, not so difficult the child thinks they are unable to manage, but difficult enough they have to work hard (Csikszentmihalyi, 2002).
Feedback from others is influential on feelings of competence. Positive feedback increases competent feelings, increasing intrinsic motivation whilst negative feedback does the opposite. Sport offers the perfect vehicle for young people to experience, make mistakes, find joy in learning and create mastery (Vallerand & Reid,1984).
Relatedness is the psychological need to care about and be cared for, the natural human inclination to form social relationships. Connection to others that value and accept who we are is essential for psychological health. Relatedness occurs in a sporting environment when quality peer, coach and parental relationships are available (Ryan & Deci, 2000).
Like any theory SDT has limits to its value and this is found in its explanation of goals for sporting applications. To resolve this many researchers combine SDT with Achievement Goal Theory which theorises individuals can have differing goal orientations, to better explain goal aims (Gaudreau & Braaten, 2016).
When focused on outcomes or comparison against others, individuals are said to have ego or performance focus. Alternatively goals based on developing skill and knowledge are known as mastery or task goals (Ames,1992). Children under the age of 12 are naturally mastery oriented (Thorkildsen & Nicholls, 1998). After that things change and since parent behaviours influence how children understand sporting competition, athletes generally reflect the goal orientation provided by their parents (Atkins, Johnson, Force & Petrie, 2015).
When parents encourage experimentation and enjoyment, viewing mistakes as learning opportunities, a task or mastery climate is perceived. When success against others is emphasised over effort, an ego or comparison climate is perceived. Mastery climates are consistently related to persistence and enjoyment of sport with more positive outcomes than ego climates that use social comparisons (Atkins et al, 2014).
Why do kids give up sport?
Unfortunately positive outcomes are not an automatic consequence of playing sport with around one third of children dropping out by the time they are 17 (Côté & Hancock, 2016). A recent meta analysis by Crane and Temple (2015) investigated 30 different sports, mostly teams finding the biggest reason for drop out was lack of enjoyment. Other contributing factors were perceptions of competence, peer pressures and injuries.
A negative predictor of motivation and enjoyment, particularly in boys is stress created by parental pressure (Amado et al, 2015). Simply, more pressure equals more stress which leads to less enjoyment and motivation. Babkes & Weiss (1999) found similarly in soccer players. Those who perceived less pressure performed better, reported greater enjoyment, competence and intrinsic motivation.
Task motivational climates are essential for continued participation but diversity is also important (Atkins et al, 2015). Children who participate in different sports early rather than specialising, are more likely to have positive experiences, improved developmental outcomes and continued participation (Harwood & Knight, 2015). Interestingly diversity also has a positive effect on future elite performance, with consistent support showing the value of sampling many sports early (Côté & Hancock, 2016; Harwood & Knight, 2015). Keegan, Harwood, Spray & Lavallee (2009) found the degree of positivity surrounding children's sporting experiences was consistent with increased motivation and enjoyment. Suggesting if parents wanted children to continue in sport, positive feedback, encouragement and support were important tools to use.
Parenting in sport isn't easy.
Parenting in sport can be demanding and evidence based studies identifying optimal parental involvement are limited (Harwood & Knight, 2016). Although what is known is that parents are role models, who effect children through behaviours and beliefs they display. It is a dynamic job that requires constantly evolving knowledge and skill, that is generally acquired through trial and error (Knight, Dorshe & Sellars, 2016). Parents are influenced by their sporting experiences, sport knowledge and the goals they have for their child.
It is likely the empathy parents feel for their children may influence their behaviour regarding competition. Considering one of the major stressors encountered as they watch their children compete is controlling their own emotions (Knight, Neely & Holt, 2011). It is important parents are aware of how and why they are reacting and their childs perception of their behaviour (Knight et al, 2016).
How can you use science to help you optimise your child's intrinsic motivation and enjoyment of sport?
This chapter shows that psychological science has proven trying to motivate your child by imposing pressure or rewards simply just doesn't work. Try as you might, you cannot make someone learn and grow. Instead by promoting an environment that supports your child's development of autonomy, relatedness and competence you will enable them to become intrinsically motivated and reap the learning, sporting, enjoyment and whole life benefits associated (Froiland, 2011).
Parental Tools for Optimal Intrinsic Sport Motivation
Table 1. Parental tools for optimal intrinsic sport motivation.
|Tools to create an need satisfying environment for your child
Practical implications / Take home messages
The take home message here is not just about what sort of athlete your child can be. Its about promoting and developing the whole child. In today's society being a parent is difficult. There are many social pressures telling us what we should and shouldn't give our children. As a parent, a valuable gift you can give your child is to aim to promote their autonomy rather than seeking their compliance, and its free! This will enable them to learn to self motivate, giving them tools to learn social, mental and emotional skills as well as physical. Resulting in their development into productive adults who will be positive contributors to society.
Positive parental relationships are associated with perceived confidence, happiness and intrinsic motivation.
- What is the science telling us?
- answer the research question
|As a parent, a valuable gift you can give your child is to aim to promote their autonomy rather than seeking their compliance, and its free!|
Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of educational psychology, 84(3), 261.
Atkins, M. R., Johnson, D. M., Force, E. C., & Petrie, T. A. (2015). Peers, parents, and coaches, oh my! the relation of the motivational climate to boys' intention to continue in sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 16, 170-180. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.10.008
Babkes, M. L., & Weiss, M. R. (1999). Parental influence on children’s cognitive and affective responses to competitive soccer participation. Pediatric Exercise Science, 11(1), 44-62.
Bailey, R., Cope, E. J., & Pearce, G. (2013). Why do children take part in, and remain involved in sport? A literature review and discussion of implications for sports coaches. International Journal of Coaching Science, 7(1).
Bailey, R., Hillman, C., Arent, S., & Petitpas, A. (2013). Physical activity: An underestimated investment in human capital?. Journal of physical activity and health, 10(3), 289-308.
Côté, J., & Hancock, D. J. (2016). Evidence-based policies for youth sport programmes. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 8(1), 51-65.
Crane, J., & Temple, V. (2015). A systematic review of dropout from organized sport among children and youth. European physical education review, 21(1), 114-131.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002). Flow: The classic work on how to achieve happiness. Random House.
Daniels, L. M., Stupnisky, R. H., Pekrun, R., Haynes, T. L., Perry, R. P., & Newall, N. E. (2009). A longitudinal analysis of achievement goals: From affective antecedents to emotional effects and achievement outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(4), 948-963. doi:10.1037/a0016096
Deci, E. L. (1976). The hidden costs of reward. Organizational Dynamics, 4(3), 61.
Deci, E. L., Eghrari, H., Patrick, B. C., & Leone, D. R. (1994). Facilitating internalization: The self‐determination theory perspective. Journal of personality, 62(1), 119-142.
Froiland, J. M. (2011). Parental autonomy support and student learning goals: A preliminary examination of an intrinsic motivation intervention. Child & Youth Care Forum, 40(2), 135-149. doi:10.1007/s10566-010-9126-2
Gaudreau, P., & Braaten, A. (2016). Achievement Goals and their Underlying Goal Motivation: Does it Matter Why Sport Participants Pursue their Goals?. Psychologica Belgica, 56(3).
Gutierrez, M., Caus, N., & Ruiz, L. (2011). The influence of parents on achievement orientation and motivation for sport of adolescent athletes with and without disabilities. Journal of Leisure Research, 43(3), 355.
Harwood, C. G., & Knight, C. J. (2015). Parenting in youth sport: A position paper on parenting expertise. Psychology of sport and exercise, 16, 24-35.
Hassmén, P., Keegan, R., & Piggott, D. (2017). Rethinking Sport and Exercise Psychology Research: Past, Present and Future. Springer.
Hayward, F. P. I., Knight, C. J., & Mellalieu, S. D. (2017). A longitudinal examination of stressors, appraisals, and coping in youth swimming. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 29, 56-68. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2016.12.002
Holt, N. L. (Ed.). (2016). Positive youth development through sport. Routledge.
Jõesaar, H., Hein, V., & Hagger, M. S. (2012). Youth athletes’ perception of autonomy support from the coach, peer motivational climate and intrinsic motivation in sport setting: One-year effects. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13(3), 257-262.
Keegan, R. J., Harwood, C. G., Spray, C. M., & Lavallee, D. E. (2009). A qualitative investigation exploring the motivational climate in early career sports participants: Coach, parent and peer influences on sport motivation. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 10(3), 361-372. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2008.12.003
Knight, C. J., Harwood, C. G., & Gould, D. (Eds.). (2017). Sport Psychology for Young Athletes. Routledge.
Knight, C. J., Little, G. C. D., Harwood, C. G., & Goodger, K. (2016). Parental involvement in elite junior slalom canoeing. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 28(2), 234-256. doi:10.1080/10413200.2015.1111273
Knight, C. J., Neely, K. C., & Holt, N. L. (2011). Parental behaviors in team sports: How do female athletes want parents to behave?. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 23(1), 76-92.
Moller, A. C., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). Choice and ego-depletion: The moderating role of autonomy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(8), 1024-1036.
Russell, W., Dodd, R., & Lee, M. (2017). youth athletes' sport motivation and physical activity enjoyment across specialization status. Journal of Contemporary Athletics, 11(2)
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 54-67. doi:10.1006/ceps.1999.1020
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.
Thorkildsen, T. A., & Nicholls, J. G. (1998). Fifth graders' achievement orientations and beliefs: Individual and classroom differences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(2), 179.
Vallerand, R. J., & Reid, G. (1984). On the Causal Effects of Perceived Competence on Intrinsic Motivation: A Test of Cognitive Evaluation Theory. Journal Of Sport Psychology, 6(1), 94-102.
Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., & Deci, E. L. (2006). Intrinsic versus extrinsic goal contents in self-determination theory: Another look at the quality of academic motivation. Educational Psychologist, 41(1), 19-31. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep4101