"Not a shove as such": Dad filmed pushing his 7-year-old son into saving a goal explains himself
Get off the field, dad! Kids sport is supposed to be fun, not stressful.
"He just tripped over his feet and went down." That his story and he's sticking to it. (Twitter)
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There’s a fine line between encouraging your child to be more active and being the sort of pushy parent who sends sports coaches running for the hills, and puts children off sport forever.

Something one Welsh dad, Phil Hatfield, knows all too well. He recently made viral waves after a spectator filmed the overly enthusiastic father quite literally pushing his goal-keeping son into position so that he could stop a goal. 


How involved are you in your children’s sporting activities? Have you ever encountered pushy parents? Share your story by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish it on Parent24. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.  


Phil swears he was only trying to give his son, 7-year-old Osian, a few pointers in the midst of an Under 8s game when he spotted the opposing team players lining up to score a goal. 

Talking to the Daily Mail, Phil rehashed what had happened: 

"Osian wasn't concentrating and he'd drifted out of position as the attack came.

"I was telling him to stand in the middle of the goal but he couldn't hear me and walked towards me as their player advanced. 

"I was shouting by now that he needed to move towards the ball quickly to make the goal seem smaller to the opponent but it was too late so I gave him a little nudge to persuade him to move towards the player. 

"It wasn't a shove as such. He just tripped over his feet and went down."

Sure, Phil, we buy that. 

His attempts to 'help' backfired big time, when the ball was immediately returned, landing in the back of the net. 

The game ended 2-4, with Osian's team on the losing end. 

The dad provided even more context, explaining that his son had only just started playing 6 weeks earlier, and it was his first time as goalkeeper. 

It does seem that the father has since rethought his actions, noting that he may have unintentionally impacted Osian's confidence. 

"He's been selected for tomorrow's game and he says he wants to go in goal again. He's desperate to show that he can do it. I think my enthusiastic attempt to get him in the right position for their first goal might have affected his confidence a bit and he let three more in. 

"I've promised him that next time I watch, I will not even talk to him, let alone step over the touchline." 

Good to know the good-intentioned dad hasn't spoiled his son's view of the game after all. 

Expert advice 

According to Greyling Viljoen, a private psychotherapy and sports psychologist, a parent's role is to offer unconditional support, yet know when to step back.

"If you see your child making a mistake, you want to help, but it's necessary to bite your tongue and let it happen so they can learn from it. The emphasis should be on improving the process and not the outcome, which is why, at the end of a game, parents should ask 'Did you enjoy it?' rather than 'Why didn't you do this and that?'," he said.

He added that the best way for parents to prevent themselves crossing the line from being supportive to being pushy, is to ensure they do not try to live vicariously through their children.

"This usually results in the child dropping out as soon as they can. In the teenage years, many people think children drop out of sport because they're burned out or not interested, but it's usually more as result of pressure from their parents," said Viljoen. "If you come between the child and their coach, you are entering a dangerous area." 

How to be supportive without pushing:

  • Be enthusiastic about how they played and celebrate achievements.
  • Treat mistakes as part of the process and not as a sign of failure.
  • Listen to their problems and difficulties, and understand that these are real.
  • Be interested, but not overbearing – ask open-ended questions rather than specific ones.
  • Don't be too quick to jump in and sort out a mistake. Give them time to realise it for themselves and deal with it.

Boost their confidence by offering a range of solutions rather than telling them what's right and wrong.

How involved are you in your children’s sporting activities? Have you ever encountered pushy parents? Share your story by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish it on Parent24. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.  

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