Uncoachable Kids from A Coach’s Perspective

Self Care

Lately, I’ve been seeing videos of unruly children. Not unruly, uncivil and ill-mannered is a better way to put it and I feel really bad for the children in these situations. Their parents have failed them and now, they’re on the internet making fools of themselves and will have a very hard time in their future. One such video I saw this morning, a teenage boy about 15 smashed his phone and threw it in the pool simply because he wanted the newest iPhone and his mom refused because the phone he had worked perfectly.

This type of behavior is rampant in kids now. And I can’t blame the parents fully, however, in most of these videos the parents do not stand up their kids. They hush them, try to talk low and quiet to get them to calm down, appease them or make excuses for them but that’s allowing that behavior to continue. For what? Because you don’t want family dinner to be awkward? It’s really appalling and then when the other people around take action, they’re they villain.

“Uncoachable kids become unemployable adults. Let your kid get used to somebody being tough on them. That’s life, get over it!” – Patrick Murphy, Alabama Softball

I don’t want to seem preachy or out of line but from being on the receiving and observing end as a coach, here’s the issue with this. These kids are allowed to behave in such a poor manner with no discipline that when they get out into the real world, they fail. Why? Well, they don’t know how to behave in society. Or they become bullies and the only success they see is because they forced their way into it likely by acting the way they always have and people gave them what they wanted to shut them up. They get jobs but can’t keep them very long because they mouth off to their boss or a customer and get fired then, they throw a fit and blame everyone else except their own behavior because they were never taught accountability.

The other issue, parents are putting their kids above anything else. This tells that child that their needs and their desires come before anyone else’s and that will carry over to their real world interactions. Love your kids, cherish them, protect them but they need to know that are other things and other people more important than them. They need to know their time and place. I grew up on a farm and was raised that I don’t get fed until the animals do, why? It’s teaching discipline, responsibility and accountability. I understood that those animals depended on me to live and not that their lives were more important than mine, but held the same value and so I was humbled early-on and learned to respect the lives around me.

This is not the best example because not everyone will have that experience but this can be taught in many ways with regard to many other situations. For instance, the issue with the iPhone example. This mother was one of the few that actually stood up to her kid but that whole ordeal could’ve probably been avoided had he not been given whatever he wanted at a younger age. By this I mean, when he was old enough to get his first phone, you don’t just hand him the newest one. I never did, my parents got the upgrades and the new phones and my siblings got their phones. We got what we got and we didn’t throw a fit.

So how do we curtail this issue? Well in this day and age, it’s really hard because the people who are supposed to be teaching real life skills and discipline, and manners, outside the home, are being made out to be the bad guys. Who are they? Coaches, teachers, mentors, other adults … anyone who challenges the child and their behavior is the bad guy while the parents just sit back and tell Junior to calm down. The parents lack of accountability for their kid’s behavior and actions makes it harder to teach them anything and the parents almost never have the other parties side either. If your kid is failing a class, it’s not necessarily the teachers fault, sure it can be but what is your kid doing in class? Do they behave and participate? Are they doing their homework? Are they showing up? These are things parents tend to ignore and just take the kid’s word as gold and go in both barrels loaded to have a parent teacher conference and basically attack the teacher under the guise that they suck at their job instead of finding the root cause. You’re not helping your child by allowing them to act out and by fighting their battles for them and by taking their side all the time. It’s a tough place to be in as a parent, I can understand that, but your child’s success depends on how they’re raised and if you’re not willing to do it then someone else has to.

I used to coach volleyball and I loved it, I thought it was going to be my passion and career but my last two seasons coaching were the worst experiences of my life and basically forced me to stop. I’ve meant to go back but now I have my reservations. I had a decent team of 12 and 13-year old girls, all very sweet and I enjoyed them very much. When you play sports, there’s consequences for under-performing, not showing up to practices, missing games, conditioning …. it is a sport after all. Anyways, one of the girls had missed nearly 4 practices before our first tournament and the team I coached for had it in their player contract, that for every missed practice the child would sit out a set in the following tournament. So she did, and her parents were on the sidelines the entire first match with me yelling at me while I should’ve been coaching my team because she wasn’t going to be playing until the last match due to her attendance. My issues were also exclusively with parents too so I think I was lucky in that regard. I only dealt with one really disrespectful kid who refused to partake in drills she didn’t like, never did any of the conditioning and started issues on the team.

What does the child gain from this? Nothing. Her parents showed her that mommy and daddy would fight her battles for her, that there is no consequences for her actions and that even though she broke the rules it didn’t matter. She and her parents were missing the point and she missed out on her first real life lesson.

Kids need boundaries and they need rules and they need parents. Have a great relationship with your children but know where to draw the line between friend and parent. It’s just like owning or running a business but being friends with some of the people that work there. It’s still your responsibility to know when to draw that line and to hold them accountable. Both of which make coachable humans.

How did you learn the skills you have? I bet your parents helped teach you as well as any other adult in charge that helped shape and mold you. My coaches taught me more about how to behave but still be intense and get what I want but if parents aren’t allowing teachers, coaches and mentors to teach … and these things aren’t being taught at home? What kind of child are you producing for this world? I don’t want to give parenting advice, I’m not a parent but this is my opinion from being on the receiving end. I wish parents would understand how much harder they’re making things on their kids when they don’t hold them accountable for their actions and behaviors and won’t allow teachers and coaches to do their jobs. It takes a village to raise a human being, so why villainize those who can help?

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