The Respect Programme also reaches out to all grassroots football parents to set positive examples to their children.
We all know how much learning and enjoyment our children can get from football and as parents, we want to be as supportive as we can to them. While the coach of a team is in charge of practices and games, it is the parents who fill in the blanks for their young players.
Learn how to give the appropriate support that child needs:
How to support your child in football?
Our children are strongly influenced by our own attitudes and behaviour.
- Children's football is a time for them to develop their technical, physical, tactical and social skills. Focus on this, rather than exclusively on winning matches.
- Don't take it too seriously. Even if your child is talented, at this stage their enjoyment is still the main goal.
- Children need positive feedback to feel that they can improve their game. It doesn't help to tell them what they are doing wrong.
- Help them analyse their own game after the match is over. Ask them how they felt about it, about other players, and ask them what went well to reinforce their strengths
- Help children learn from their own mistakes by encouraging them to think about what they could have done instead. Remind them of their strengths.
- Help children to feel confident, enjoy themselves and feel like they 'belong' by supporting a positive atmosphere at a game.
- Football is a passionate game but don't let disappointment at a misplaced pass or a poor touch get in the way. Encourage players to 'move on'.
- Respect the officials – children should copy their parents and other adults' behaviour!
How to manage a conflict situation?
- It's not a professional game.
- It's meant to be fun.
- Getting angry won't solve anything.
- If adults lose control, children will lose respect.
- Suggest everyone takes 'time out' if there's shouting.
- Never tolerate violence or abuse, in any form.
- If things do get out of hand report your concerns
- Remember football is for the children, not the adults.
What experts say about children and competition?
Children should feel confident that they'll be supported, whether they win or lose.
- Too much pressure to win can have a negative effect and put children off the game altogether.
- Dreaming of success is fine, but make sure they're your child's dreams, not yours.
- It helps to manage your child's expectations, so they regard losing as learning, not as failure.
- Research has shown that children are more interested in playing the game than getting a result.
- Winning is great but at this stage it's not everything.
- If we see competition as a way to improve a team's game, losing can be as valuable as winning.
Get the most from watching your child play football.
Be a good spectator
- Cheer good effort.
- Be positive and supportive of all the players.
- Allow the coach to do their job without interference.
- Respect the referee's decisions, even if you disagree.
- Don't criticise or dwell on mistakes or weaknesses – this undermines confidence.
- Appreciate the opposing team's efforts too.
Healthy habits at home.
Playing football requires lots of energy.
- Encourage your child to eat regularly.
- Help them eat a balanced diet - including calcium for strong bones, protein for growth and carbohydrates for energy.
- Use football role models to promote healthy eating to your child. Point out that, for example, John Terry or Faye White would eat a proper breakfast before a game.
- A healthy diet allows our bodies to recover more easily from stress and injury. Essential for players keen to get back on the pitch.
- Keep kids hydrated with water - football is hot work!
- Provide children with healthy snacks and a still (not fizzy) drink when they're training.
- Make sure they get enough sleep, especially before a match.
- Encourage your children to practise and try out new skills outside of playing matches and training.