Addressing Over-Identification

Carlos Flores

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) whole heartedly supports the idea of our kids being involved in sports. Health benefits for our young athletes are boundless and move them towards positive healthy living in body, mind and spirit. In watching from the sidelines, we parents are expected to show excitement by vocally encouraging our athletes and their teams. But we must keep this enthusiasm in the positive.

Unfortunately, for some, our gatherings at the pitch, have become opportunities to display not just bad behavior, but also degrading, abusive, and even threatening behaviors.  In conversations with multiple coaches, league officials, referees, and parents, as well as witnessing first hand, I’ve come to the conclusion that what simply used to be over-zealous parents has now crossed that line into an assaultive and abusive mentality. We don’t have to let this happen. In fact, we all have a responsibility to curb this type of behavior.

The AAP recognizes a phenomenon known as “over-identification” in some parents. We’ve all seen it, a parent who is certain their child is the sole

reason for the existence of the team because he/she is destined to the pro ranks (literally 1:1,000,000 make that level), or their child’s success somehow makes them a better parent or stronger person, or their own underachievement is somehow uplifted by the child’s success. The result is a decrease in sportsmanship both on the field and on the sidelines. Let’s keep sportsmanship alive and well. Parents of young athletes should and must be the good role models that we have a responsibility to be.

Click here to see Carlos’ great suggestions on how to avoid Over-Identification.