Information for parents

Last updated: 08 Sept 2023
Getting involved

Being a great sports parent

Parents and carers play a big role in encouraging children to take part in sport or physical activity, which is important if we want our children to live healthy and active lifestyles.

Why are parents so important to sport, this short video highlights the important role that parents play in their child's sporting life.

Getting Involved in your child’s sport or activity can mean lots of different things, from washing kits to being their personal cheerleader or taxi driver. But it also means making sure their sport is a safe place for them to thrive and enjoy.

We’ve developed 5 questions to ask your child's sports club, this flyer details 5 great ways to make sure a club or activity is safe for your child.

The benefits of being involved in your child’s sport

Having an understanding and interest in getting involved in your child’s sports club or activity will help create an environment where your child feels able to share their experiences with you. There are many benefits of being involved, including:

  • you’re part of the team too
  • creating opportunities to get involved in other activities with the club, for example fundraising, volunteering, coaching or first aid
  • building a better bond with the club, the coaches, staff, volunteers and players to be a great supporter for your child and wider team too
  • a better knowledge of the organisation, it’s ethos and how things are run on a daily basis
  • an understanding about the possible challenges and risks
  • raising any helpful suggestions about how to improve things at the club, as well as voicing any concerns.

We've developed a factsheet, How can you get involved in your child's sports club?, which gives some tips on supporting and encouraging your child. 

Related information for coaches and clubs

Advice and resources to help coaches and clubs engage with parents in sport can be found on our Parents in sport topic page.

Related documents

Being supportive

Giving your child the best experience

Knowing how to best support your child can be tricky to navigate at times, especially during heightened emotional times like games, performances or competitions.

This video interviews parents and children about their sporting lives and involvement. It highlights the impact of both positive and negative parental involvement and side-line behaviour. 

How you can support your child both emotionally and practically

  • let your child know you’re proud of them for many different reasons, regardless of the result of the match, competition, race or session
  • listen to your child, if they’re not happy have a discussion about what you might be able to change together to make them feel better about taking part
  • reassure your child that you understand that they may feel stressed or anxious regarding a training or competitions and that it is ok to feel that way
  • talk openly with your child about how they feel about their chosen sport, they shouldn’t feel forced to participate in any sport, let them know it’s their choice
  • provide encouragement from the sidelines
  • have confidence in coaches and staff and let them help your child develop
  • respect the officials’ and referees’ decisions
  • respect all players and other spectators
  • report any negative behaviour from other adults or spectators
  • raise any helpful suggestions on possible improvements, as well as vocalising any concerns

We’ve also developed a factsheet on Negotiating the post-game conversation. This offers some helpful guidance on when, where and how to have these conversations.

In this video with Dr Camilla Knight discusses the role of parents and carers in supporting children and young people in sport.

Related documents

How to spot abuse

Knowing when something is wrong

It’s vital that all parents and carers are aware of, and can spot any, possible signs of abuse.

If you have any doubts or worries that a child might not be feeling or acting like their usual self here are some common signs to look out for:

  • unexplained changes in behaviour
  • a change in the way they talk about their sport or a member of staff, peer or individual
  • anxiety about attending practice or taking part in a sport they once enjoyed 
  • mention of negative things they’ve seen or heard happening to other children in the team
  • changes in diet or a sudden concern about their weight or appearance
  • frequent communication, either online or in person, with a coach or other member of staff outside of the sports setting that isn’t about practices or competition planning
  • unexplained gifts or favours from coaches or other staff members
  • increased levels of stress to achieve or perform well

If you have any concerns, worries or doubts we’ve developed some helpful guidance that can help:

  • abuse in a sports settings - this guidance gives examples of how these types of abuse might occur
  • lower level concerns (also known as poor practice)– this guidance provides details of what these concerns might be and how to raise any concerns.

Related documents

Keeping children safe

What to do if you have a concern

Your child might come to you with a concern or worry about something that’s happened or they have witnessed. It’s important for you to address these concerns and raise this with the right people.

This video looks at what parents can do to help keep their child safe and who they can turn to for help if something is wrong. We hear Ellie's story, a young athlete who has a negative experience and whose parents aren't sure how to support her.

If you have any worries or doubts about your child, another child or anyone else involved in your child’s chosen sport, it's essential that you raise this and talk to someone. There are some helpful things to consider:

Listen

  • to your child about their worries or concerns. Let them express how they feel freely and with an open mind.

Report

  • every club should have polices and procedures in place to ensure children are safe in their care as well for dealing with concerns, and you can request to see these.
  • if you’re unsure who to speak to, the NSPCC helpline can support you and advise you on what to do next - call 0808 800 5000

Support

  • speak to the club’s child protection, safeguarding or welfare officer to discuss your concern, ask what happens next and how your child will be supported going forward
  • let your child know that you’ve acted on what they’ve told you and that they can come back to you again if they need to

If you think a child is in immediate danger of abuse, contact the police on 999.

The idea of speaking out about abuse, a worry or concern can be daunting but by taking action, you'll be safeguarding the child concerned as well as helping to prevent others being harmed or put at risk.

What should be in place at your child’s club or activity

Any good club or activity should have certain things in place to make sure they’re taking care of children during sessions, practices and any away trips and competitions.

You should feel confident asking a club about any of the areas below, you have a right to know these things and any good club will be happy to let you know what they have in place.

Safeguarding policy

Clubs and activity providers should have a safeguarding policy which outlines their commitment to protecting children and a clear procedure for dealing with any and all concerns. You should be able to see a copy of this policy.

Our sample safeguarding policy statement outlines how a sports organisation will ensure children are kept safe during sport and activity sessions.

Safeguarding lead

Every club should have a welfare or child protection officer who you can contact if you have a concern of any sort about your child or another child during their time at the club. You should be given this person’s contact details. If you don’t, their details should be available from any coach, or be displayed on the club or activities website or in their venue.

Codes of conduct for staff, children and parents

There should be a written code of conduct or behaviour showing what is required of staff, volunteers, participants, parents and carers. Theses codes should highlight the rules about what behaviour is expected and how this will be addressed if this isn’t upheld.

Safeguarding training for staff

Anyone working with children should have received some level of safeguarding training. The level of safeguarding training they need depends on the type of role they have and the frequency of involvement they have with children. We have information for coaches, clubs and other sports organisations on what type of training are available.

Safe ways of recruiting staff, including criminal records checks

All staff and volunteers should be subject to something called 'safer recruitment processes', which means that they’ve been interviewed, the organisation has seen references, and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or criminal records checks for working with children have been carried out where applicable.

Consent

We advise that any child under the age of 16 requires parental consent to join a club or activity. Part of giving your consent means you’re aware of the kind of club or activity you’re sending your child to and that you’re comfortable letting them attend.

Related documents

Resources

Here we provide leaflets and videos to give you more information, as well as links to organisations for further help.

Services that can help support you and your child

  • NSPCC – safeguarding advice, guidance and resources for parents and families
  • Childline – support and information for your child on a range of different topics from managing emotions to staying safe online
  • Anti-Bullying Alliance – an anti-bullying charity with advice and tools for parents
  • Gendered Intelligence – support for trans young people and their parents
  • UK Anti-Doping – support for parents with children on the talent pathway regarding clean sport

Further information and resources for parents

Here are some resources you might find helpful when it comes to supporting your child in sport, and which you might want to share with other parents.

Videos for parents

These videos, created by the CPSU, highlight the positive role you can play as a parent to support your child in their chosen sport.


My No.1 Fan - Positive parental involvement in sport

This video interviews parents and children about their sporting lives and involvement. It highlights the impact of both positive and negative parental involvement and side-line behaviour. 


Messages for parents of young athletes

The key for being involved in your child’s sport and to help them enjoy participating and achieve success is simply this – talk to your child.


The importance of parents in sport

It's really important that you get involved and support your child in sport. Don't let media stories about 'pushy parents' put you off.


The role of parents in supporting children and young people in sport

As a parent, you’re a role model for your child to get active and enjoy sport. You show them how to be a good sportsperson and help them deal with the emotions of winning and losing, and how to react positively in different situations.


More videos

You can find more videos on our YouTube playlist of videos for sports parents.