How Hard Should Parents Push Children to be Competitive?

Some parents are criticized for being disinterested in their children’s activities, but is there a point when parents are too involved?

A recent story in High School Pep Rally tells of two young sisters who are competing in high level endurance events. The article is not as much a tribute to their accomplishments as it is a criticism of their parents for pushing them so hard. The two girls, Kaytlynn, 12, and Heather Welch, 10, recently ran a grueling 13-mile cross country race with Kaytlynn winning the women’s division and her younger sister coming in third. Reaching that level of competitive excellence, however, takes intense training. The criticism of the parents that followed has been harsh. The opinion of many appears to be that the parents are pushing them too hard – that it is too intense for such young children and could have a damaging effect on their young, developing bodies.

This is not the first time this type of criticism has been leveled at parents of young athletes competing at the top of their game. The parents and coaches of young olympic athletes often face much the same type of criticism.

What do you think? Is there a point when parents should back off and let kids just be kids, even if they have the potential to be exceptional young athletes?

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