Changing how parents talk to their kids about sport

Car winter road snow forest tour

Parents Play a part in The Ride Home Campaign

Do you have kids in sports? If so, you’re apt to be intimately familiar with “the ride home.”  Sometimes it’s about four or six giggling kids galloping into a minivan after a practice. They’re silly, swapping stories, planning sleepovers.

Other times it’s an excited player or two talking animatedly about the epic highlights of a fun game.

Then there are the times there is a teary-eyed youngster or sullen youth who has just experienced a demoralizing defeat, a tongue-lashing from a coach or the embarrassment of making an all-too-human error as part of the play.

Those minutes in the dark family vehicle?  They matter.

A lot.

That’s why True Sport has launched a campaign to shine a light on the way parents talk with their kids about sport. Introduced today, The Ride Home campaign focuses on the ride home after a game—something tons of Ottawa kids and parents share every day. And the Canadian organization is challenging parents to think hard about “that moment” in the family vehicle and how they will handle it.

In the short time spent alone with their child on the ride home after the game, everything a parent says can have a positive or negative impact on that child’s attitude towards sport.

“There is significant research that shows that kids who play sport have higher self-esteem, more confidence, do better in school, are less likely to use drugs, and the list goes on and on,” said Karri Dawson, executive director of the True Sport Foundation. “However, 70 per cent of kids are leaving sport before they get to high school and the number one reason is because it isn’t fun anymore. This campaign is about reminding parents to help keep sport fun.”

The online film called “The Ride Home” was created for this campaign. It offers parents and kids a first-hand look at an uncomfortable situation that some children find themselves in when their athletic performance doesn’t meet their parent’s expectations.  While many parents feel they are teaching their kids “life lessons,” in reality they are taking the joy and fun out of sport.

In addition, The Ride Home website provides practical advice for parents on how to handle the ride home (and other issues in your child’s sporting life) in a positive manner.

“One rule of thumb after a bad game or practice is to not say anything at all about the game unless your child brings it up,” says Dr. Penny Werthner, former Canadian Olympian, sports psychologist and dean of kinesiology at the University of Calgary. “The 24-hour rule, for example, lets everyone cool off a bit and allows you to discuss things when emotions aren’t so high.”


About True Sport
True Sport promotes a series of programs and initiatives designed to give people, communities and organizations the means to use the benefits of sport from a platform of shared values and principles. Through public consultation, Canadians have declared they want their sport experience to be based on fairness, excellence, inclusion and fun. You can join True Sport at


This entry was posted in Living and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.