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Sporting kids and pressure from dads!

(23 Posts)
yellowismyfave Wed 05-Feb-14 09:57:47

To be fair, this is possibly a parenting question and not relationships, but as how my dh behaves towards me and our children affects our relationships so much, thought I'd stay here with this where I'm comfortable!

Now, despite the fact I want to leave my dh and am working up to it, I want to put that aside and ask this question separately, because whether we stay together or not, this issue is still there. We have very sporty children and I think he is overly critical of their performance. However, I find some of the other dads the same. He genuinely believes he is trying to help them. The nurturing mum in me just wants to praise, praise, praise their efforts regardless! Don't get me wrong, he's not competitive dad from the Fast Show for those that might remember that sketch but he is very negative person in general, as is his mum, and his first reaction always seem to be to tell them what they could do better, often making the kids cry or storm off. He then looks genuinely bewildered and repeats that he is just trying to help. We've talked this through so many times about the need to praise but like most things, my voice is ignored!

What worries me if we separate is that I will be able to police it even less and he has said he'll live at his mums and have them there to stay. Knowing I am then subjecting them to that high level of negativity (his mum moans about everything about them constantly - I can see where he gets it from) makes me think we should stick together so I can control it a bit, but I'm dying inside. We can't afford two places of our own at the moment.

Is it a dad thing?! Should I stay and police it? Or over compensate with praise when they're with me if we separate? Spend my life being confused, am sick of it. Lost sight of what is 'normal'. Help!

Pagwatch Wed 05-Feb-14 10:10:59

Most importantly - how old are they. My post may be inappropriate if they are very young but tbh very young chikdren are not really sporty are they?

It's not a dad thing.you should see the mums at my dds gym and swimming.

To be fair, defending on the age, I think the 'praise, praise, praise' thing is unhelpful.
I praise dd for her effort because she does such long hours. I pause her when she has done well but I am also honest if she hasn't tried or been a bit crap.

Obviously I don't say it baldly like that but if a child is relentlessly praised regardless of achievement or effort then it's pointless isn't it?

Is he really really negative?
Or is it possible that your children struggle with criticism because they expect 'praise praise praise' ?

DIYapprentice Wed 05-Feb-14 10:17:08

How about the criticism sandwich? You point out something positive, then something negative, and end with something positive. So yes, they get the praise, in fact twice as much praise as criticism, but they also get told what they could be working on.

Pagwatch Wed 05-Feb-14 10:21:04

Blimey DIY, I didn't know that was a thing and had a name grin

That's exactly what I do. I tend to refer to it as the 'things to work on'

yellowismyfave Wed 05-Feb-14 10:24:44

The two I'm particularly talking about are 11 and 8. The 8 year old is under CAMHS for low self esteem, OCD, but he's not as hard on him (thank God!!). The youngest one does just get praise. I completely agree that praise, praise, praise is not constructive. I'm a teacher and the sandwich thing is what I do at work, and what I think I do mostly with my kids, and what I TRY and ask him to do. I just think he is such a negative person he can't see it. I then lay on too thick with the praise to over compensate. And actually I agree, I shouldn't just label this as a dad's thing, some of the mums I witness are shocking.....

Thanks for the replies, appreciated.

Dahlen Wed 05-Feb-14 10:25:33

Unless you feel he's being abusive to them, I honestly wouldn't worry about it too much.

Any professional sports person will tell you that criticism and the hard push are vital if you want to better than the next competitor. I know we're talking about school children here, not olympic athletes, but I don't think it hurts children to realise that excelling at something takes hard work and the willingness to dissect a good performance in order to produce an excellent one.

As long as you are there to pick up the pieces by providing praise for effort, etc, and reassuring your DC that they are still good competitors and good, loveable children no matter how they perform, I don't think your H will do too much harm.

If, however, you feel his criticism is harsh to the point of being abusive, I might say differently.

What you could do, in order to avoid your H going on the defensive, is try to educate him about constructive criticism - "if you're specific about what they could do better, rather than pointing out what they've done wrong, they'll know what to do next time and will hopefully perform better."

Good luck.

JoinYourPlayfellows Wed 05-Feb-14 10:29:15

How about the criticism sandwich?

That's called a shit sandwich in my field grin

I think you need to let him parent his own way.

You think constant praise is good. He has a different approach.

Nice that your kids are getting different approaches and hopefully it will be "best of both worlds" for them.

They've one parent who pushes them to try harder and one who always says they are great.

Sounds pretty OK to me smile

cory Wed 05-Feb-14 10:33:50

When you say you only want to praise, praise, praise- do you mean that literally?

Because new research seems to show that constant extravagant and undiscerning praise is almost as bad for children's confidence as constant criticism.

Or is it simply that you find sport rather uninteresting so find it easy to just give vague praise that doesn't mean anything?

I am very interested in my dd's passion (drama) and though I don't constantly carp and criticise, she knows I wouldn't say something was good if it wasn't. The shit sandwich probably describes it: I would try to find something good, but would also point out if something could have been better. And I can tell the difference between a genuine effort built on previous advice and sheer sloppy work. I don't make her burst into tears but I do make her work harder.

yellowismyfave Wed 05-Feb-14 10:45:36

Thank you Dahlen, good points. Cory I definitely don't think that praise, praise praise is the way forward, it becomes utterly meaningless. I just do it to try and balance out his negatives, though now given the food for thought perhaps I am being a little harsh on him. He is very specific with them about how they could do it better, he's a good sportsman himself and is I believe genuinely trying to help. I do really enjoy watching them and seeing them enjoy themselves. I think with middle child perhaps I do go over the top a little but I try and make my praise specific but that more to do with his mental health issues (mentioned above). I just notice with my eldest he's reaching a point with the slightest bit of criticism he starts crying. He's always been one of those children 'who knows' best tho! Can't wait for him to be a teenager......

I think because he's so negative in general I'm not able to see this clearly but thank you for your comments, kids do have to learn to be resilient and accept criticism, especially if they want to succeed in their chosen field and my eldest does compete at a high level. Think I'm over thinking this one maybe.

wyrdyBird Wed 05-Feb-14 10:53:41

It's not necessarily a dad thing; women can be like this too sad

Yellow, I read your posting on the other thread. If your marriage is miserable, staying together won't help. Policing how he talks to the DC isn't a good reason to stay. The DC will know what he thinks however much you try to jump in front and smooth things out.

I wouldn't go overboard with praise to make up for it, surprisingly enough. First, because someone I know was over praised by her parents, and it left her permanently fearful of looking anything less than perfect to them. Secondly I favour Carol Dweck's growth mindset, which suggests specific praise and encouraging effort is what helps people learn and develop (more to it, but that's the gist).

blogs.wsj.com/informedreader/2007/02/13/the-praise-a-child-should-never-hear/

Pagwatch Wed 05-Feb-14 11:20:02

Arf at 'shit sandwich' grin

Yep - I agree too about criticism needing to be specific and constructive.

wyrdyBird Wed 05-Feb-14 12:34:46

I was responding to your OP, yellow, now I've read more of your posts.
It's awful that your older child has been so damaged by his father's criticism that he's reduced to tears now. No caring parent would do that to their child.

Constructive criticism may be ok, but it's not constructive to his ears, it seems.

If DH really is a good sportsman, maybe the children should be allowed to ask for his input rather than receive it, whether they like it or not. After all it's the coach's job to advise on their skills, not a parent's. Not sure how your DH would respond to that though...

yellowismyfave Wed 05-Feb-14 14:58:31

Thanks again, am off to read the link now. Have decided to get the younger two to bed and sit eldest and dh down together so see if we can sort this out. I think dad is just trying to help but it's not coming out right and eldest is becoming more and more sensitive so need to understand that, check there's nothing else wrong then see how we can move this forwards.

MadeMan Wed 05-Feb-14 16:54:32

"Don't get me wrong, he's not competitive dad from the Fast Show."

I love those sketches. smile

Competitive Dad clip.

Joysmum Wed 05-Feb-14 17:00:29

I'm all for praise, but praise is worth fuck all if it's always given universally and kids aren't thick, they'll soon work that out.

My DD performs best for teachers who are harder to earn praise from and respects them and their opinions more as she knows that when she gets praised, it's been earnt.

I go along the lines of encouraging applied effort. I ask her if she thinks she's done her best, if do, she's met her potential and that's what I want to see. I'm also pretty dismissive of those with natural talent who are lazy, these aren't worthy of praise in my book.

yellowismyfave Wed 05-Feb-14 19:27:48

Joysmum, I quite agree and that is what I would expect the norm to be, so need to work out why the tears from my eldest when dh says that is all he is doing. Having our 'chat' in a bit.

And mademan, thanks so much for the clip, made my day!

lljkk Wed 05-Feb-14 19:43:53

What sports do they do? I find it really depends what sport how stupidly competitive the parents are.

I wouldn't want my kids to think only the very top ability is good enough. Some sports the very top is virtually impossible to reach, anyway. They always have to do it for fun, first and foremost.

You ever read the stories about Chris Hoy? He dragged his parents around to different sports he was often lousy at for many yrs, plus a few he was moderately good at (like rowing). That's the key thing, he drove himself. They didn't have to push for him to reach the top.

PleaseNoScar Wed 05-Feb-14 20:12:19

perhaps your husband could invest in a sports psychology book which should agree with joys mum

SailingToByzantium Wed 05-Feb-14 21:39:03

Probably the best book on the subject is Bounce by Matthew Syed - Syed claims it is power of practice that makes great sportsmen and women. Criticism is important but has to be purposeful i.e. learning from mistakes not just calling somebody rubbish. Too much praise is frowned upon as it makes us complacent.

PleaseNoScar Thu 06-Feb-14 10:11:06

I sort of agree with Bounce... But really don't think that talent is a myth.

lljkk Thu 06-Feb-14 10:37:57

Yeah, that part of Said's thesis (talent not important) pisses me off enormously. I could have a long rant about it.

SailingToByzantium Thu 06-Feb-14 12:48:29

I agree you need practice and talent if you're going to win Wimbledon or score the winning goal in the World Cup. But David Beckham's talent was achieved through years of practice. Most children will become reasonable sports people if they put the practice in but they have to have the interest first before they are willing to put the effort in.

Back to the OP my first two DCs ran the other way when they saw a ball the last DC is never seen without some type of ball. I found Bounce very helpful in providing him with constructive criticism and also explaining why a 6-1 football loss was a much better learning experience than their 12-0 win. It's fine to criticize your child as long as its constructive not negative.

yellowismyfave Thu 06-Feb-14 19:02:51

Thanks for such helpful replies, will look up articles / books. Eldest come home today delighted with getting one of the top marks in his year for his maths Sats. He was so chuffed with himself, which he would never normally show. Dh gives praise, great, then says along the lines of shame you're not so clever at listening, didn't I tell you last night to take your uniform off as soon as you get in and hang it up! Criticise when needed I know but he never talks of his achievements, just let him have his moment for christ's sake!

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