The arrival of spring and summer mark the beginning of milder temperatures and beautiful weather. This means more time spent in the great outdoors, tending our gardens, working in the yard, and of course, having fun with spring sports.

Spring Training

For many children, spring means dusting off their baseball or lacrosse equipment, lacing up their cleats, and running through the grass. Team sports offer kids a wonderful opportunity to make new friends and get some exercise.

Team sports are also a great way to take part in a group activity that teaches them about hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance. It helps them to build confidence and develop character while also learning about cooperation and good sportsmanship.

Pressure to Perform

Unfortunately, when it comes to a competitive environment, it isn't always easy to keep things in perspective. Sometimes, winning and performance become the most important thing. Even though everyone knows that it is just a game and the goal is to have fun, more than a fair share of us have embraced an overzealous attitude to our kid's activities.

With the best of intentions, some of us cannot help but play the role of armchair coach, dispensing advice before, during, and after the game, when in fact it is usually best to leave the coaching to the coaches. This is especially true during a game or practice, where yelling from the sidelines is not only obnoxious, but can be dangerous distraction for the players.

The Best Intentions Are Not Always Welcome

Yahoo! Sports recently published an article on the subject of "nightmare sports parents." Professional and college athletes were asked to recall their worst memories of growing up and playing sports, and they unanimously indicated that it was the ride home with mom and dad after a game. This is the time when parents can make their children miserable by dispensing advice and discussing the game. According to experts, children need some down time after a hard-fought contest, and they don't want to be lectured to or coached once the game is over.

How do you make sure you're a good sports parent? Keep a few things in mind:

1. Show a sincere interest. Don't project to your kids that being at their games is just a chore to you. Put away your mobile device and be engaged.

2. Don't stand out in the crowd. It's understandable to offer encouragement and support, but being really loud is bothersome and embarrassing.

3. Winning isn't the only thing. As cliché as it may sound, sports are a great chance to teach kids about honor, dignity, pride, and character.

4. Let the coaches do the coaching. You may think you're helping out, but more often than not, screaming at your kid can undermine the coaches' efforts.

5. Be on the same page as your child. Kids just want to have fun, so don't think of sports as a way to earn scholarships or to live out your own dreams.

6. Work as team. Parenting is the ultimate team sport, so moms and dads should watch each other's back and, if necessary, keep one another in line.

7. Always offer unconditional love and support, regardless of outcome. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it can be difficult to mask our emotions.

8. Set a good example. When your behavior as a parent is exemplary, it demonstrates to your child how to act and grow up to be a model citizen.

Sports are a great opportunity for kids to be active, make friends, learn important life lessons, and most of all, have fun! This process with the parents, so do your part to help your child make the most of their sporting experience.

For more information, visit The Educated Sports Parent.