Best Parenting Tip Ever

From New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle’s Talent Code Blog

For three decades, Miller and Brown made a habit of asking college-age athletes about the ways their parents had made a positive or negative impact. After several hundred interviews with a wide cross-section of kids, their informal survey had two insightful discoveries. Number one: what kids hate most, by an overwhelming margin, is the conversations during the ride home after the game. You know, that quiet, strained, slightly uncomfortable time when parents ask questions, give praise, offer critiques, and generally get involved by saying things like:

Great job today. So what happened on that play?
What did your coach tell the team after the game?
Do you think the team could have hustled more?

These types of moments, Miller and Brown point out, are well intentioned, and often contain truth, but the timing is toxic. The moments after a game are not the time for judgement or pressure and definitely not for instruction (which is the job of the coach, not the parent). In fact, many of the kids said they preferred having grandparents attend games, because they are more joyful and less pressurizing than parents.

But it’s not all bad news. Because there’s a second finding to emerge from their work, and it might be the best parenting tip I’ve ever read.

The kids reported there was one phrase spoken by parents that brought them happiness. One simple sentence that made them feel joyful, confident, and fulfilled. Just six words.

I love to watch you play.

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