We all know the stereotype of the ‘hockey dad’ or ‘soccer mom.’ The red-faced screaming parent in the stands at every game, viciously berating refs, coaches, and even other people’s children as the game goes on. That behavior might seem simply annoying, or even comical, but it can have serious negative impacts on young athletes.
Joseph Burgo, PhD, author of The Narcissist You Know, explains how competitive parenting can be more damaging than you might realize—and offers some practical suggestions for how to recognize, defuse, and deal with bad sportsmanship in the stands.
“I look at competitive parenting as narcissism by proxy,” he says. “The whole narcissistic view is to look at the world as winners and losers, and a narcissist is driven to show the world that he or she is a winner. And as parents, they use their kids to do the same thing: their kids have to be winners, so that the parents can be winners by having produced winning offspring.”