Parents want their children to succeed, and it’s great when a parent takes an interest in their child’s athletic career! What happens though, when a parent takes it too far? Most of the time, a “pushy” parent does not mean harm, just doesn’t realize that they need to back down. How should a cheerleading coach handle the situation in a way that doesn’t embarrass or alienate the athlete, but sends a clear message to the parent? Recognizing The Problem A coach needs to be able to spot parent interference before they can take steps to solve the conflict. Here are a few things to look for: A parent that tries to monopolize a coach’s time without considering or respecting the practice schedule will cause tension for a coach and for their child. Ideas are great and can help inspire you to have a better cheer season, but watch for parents that try to enforce their ideas without your approval or supervision. A parent that starts telling team members and other parents what to do, and saying that you said so, is going to quickly become a problem. If you hear a parent criticizing their child from the sidelines or after practice regarding their performance or their weight, then their support has crossed a line into interference. What are some other warning signs of a parent that is interfering? Leave us your tips in the comments section! Managing Parent Interference Prevention Cheer coaches should hold a meeting prior to every cheerleading season that includes parents and firmly sets the ground rules. Since there may be some parents that think the rules do not apply to them, coaches can even print out the “parent’s rules”, with consequences, and have each parent sign to confirm that they acknowledge the boundaries. First Offense If a parent interferes, handle it: immediately firmly without playing favorites Many times, a parent may be so emotionally involved that they don’t recognize their offense. Simply pulling them to the side and making them aware of their behavior could be all that is needed. Some parents don’t know how else to support the team except to “sideline coach’. Give them another way to show their support! Offer a volunteer assistant coach program that allows some parents to pitch in. Set clear perimeters for the program to keep it from becoming a burden. Second Offense If a parent continues to interferes: do not take it out on the athlete do not let other parents handle it or get involved enforce consequences A cheer coach should set clear expectations for parents at the beginning of the season. They should also give parents a overview of how to handle any cheerleading team issues. Parents that get too pushy need to be reminded of the rules, and need to face the consequences of their actions. It may seem harsh, but it will set a standard and let the other parents know that you are not a pushover. A cheer coach needs to be consistent with how they deal with parents, without being unkind. Be sure to set firm hours detailing your availability for parent conferencing, should a parent request it. Continued Offense If a parent continues to interferes, even after gentle reminders and consequences: establish closed practices consider banning them from performances and events “Banning” parents is a major step for a coach to take, but it may be necessary in extreme cases. It is important to remember that part of a coach’s job is to provide the best possible environment for their athletes to succeed. If parent interference begins to have a negative effect on team camaraderie or begins to endanger the season goals, then a coach needs to step in, take control and do what needs to be done for the good of the team.