Members involved in youth football told us that one of the biggest non- footballing challenges they face is the issue of respect. Kids Coach Naomi Richards says that good behaviour on the pitch starts with adults setting the right tone off it. Many mums and dads love it when their children say they want to play football because it can teach their children valuable life skills.

It teaches them how to work as a team where they can develop their hand to eye co-ordination, make lots of like-minded friends, have fresh air, exercise and, more importantly, have fun.

Some parents are happy to take their children along to practice and games and are not too bothered if their child plays well, has a bad day or if their child’s team wins or loses. Other parents are less relaxed, are more vocal and want to be part of the game. These parents might shout instructions from the sidelines to their children, shout at the ref or make criticisms of other players – from either team – so that other parents and children around them can hear.


Is it a good thing to be so vocal? What is the message that we are sending our children when they hear a parent, possibly their own, verbally abusing the ref or another player? What does it say to them?

What can you do if you are not one of those parents who is being disrespectful but the person next to you is? What could you say to get them to tone down their language?

Is it fair for a parent to be shouting instructions at their child when the coach is watching the game and using encouraging language to get them to play better, stronger?

Think about your child and what kind of adult you would like them to be when they get older. What kind of life skills would you like them to have? Would you like them to have respect for others and respect for authority?

Would you like your children to be kind and respectful to the other players during the game?

If so, then we need to consider the way we act and speak to people during and after a training session or game.

Respect is about asking someone to do something instead of shouting. It’s about talking nicely to people and thinking about other’s needs. How would you like to be spoken to? How do you feel when you are criticised?

It is also about listening to others and accepting the decisions sometimes that other people make. As parents we need to model that behaviour and teach our children to ‘do as we do’.


We have to live our values and if one of those is respect, then we’ve got to behave in a respectful way. We need to set a good example to our children as we are their role models. If they grow up seeing us treat others with manners then they will want to do the same. This is particularly important when we are communicating with other parents who are watching the game who are not setting the best example. If we only tell them to respect others and don’t do it ourselves, then they will learn how to be a hypocrite.

Naomi Richards is The Kids Coach – a life coach for children. Her first book, ‘The Parents Toolkit’, was published this year. To find out more or follow @thekidscoach. 

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