Parenting Skill: Sportscasting
Updated: Jul 26, 2021
Try this out!
Instead of being this parent:
Try being this parent:
What on earth do I mean?!
First, let's get some education:
What is Parent Sportscasting? Instead of rushing in to save or "coach" your kids, you get close enough to the action to be there in case a punch is about to be thrown or in case the insults start flying, but you're not there to solve the issue for the kids. Instead, you're there to "sportscast" on it. I first learned about this from Magda Gerber, founder of RIE parenting. Janet Landsbury continues Magda's work now. Sportcasting is where you verbalize the facts of the situation, non-judgementally.
How Do I Do it? Practice commenting on the child's behavior, just like a sports commentator would comment on the game. Verbally comment on what you notice, keeping healthy boundaries (like no hitting and no insults), and give the children space to decide what they want to do. You don't fix, shame, blame, or judge. You don't problem solve. You just verbalize what you notice. it helps children feel that you see what they see, that they are save to explore their situation, and that they can either problem solve, let go of the issue, and/or move on. *Note: if it escalates, you can THEN give a suggestion (e.g. "Some kids in your situation might do this ...")
When Would I Use It? Anytime your kids are struggling: fighting with a sibling over who gets to ride shotgun, frustrated with the enforcement of consequences, struggling to get ready for school on time.
Second, let's role play:
Child Scenario #1 - two children want the same toy and begin to struggle over it.
Coaching: "Sally you had it for a minute so now it's Tommy's turn with the toy. I'll go set a timer and you can each have it for one minute."
Sportscasting: "Sally, you had the toy and now Tommy wants it. You both really want that toy. Tommy is trying to take it from you...Sally, I won't let you hit. You really want to keep that toy, and Tommy wants a turn with it."
Child Scenario #2 - child does not want to do a chore.
Coaching: "You need to do your chore because you live here so we expect you to participate in household chores."
Sportscasting: "I can see you really want to keep playing. It is really hard to take a break from playing to go do a chore. What can you do?"
Third, let's prepare:
Think ahead to the next interaction with your children. Can you anticipate any moments where they might struggle?
Practice what you might say in the situation to practice sportscasting instead of coaching.
Lastly, keep in mind that there are situations where sportscasting is not recommended:
If there are safety concerns.
If there are disruptive or destructive patterns of behavior. That is a great time to set clear, firm, and gentle (yes - firm and gentle CAN go together) boundaries.
If a child is about to interfere with another child's work of play. Best to keep the kids apart, but if you can't get there fast enough THEN sportscast the results.