How to Handle Out-of-Control Parents of Youth Athletes

As a coach, you’ll encounter every kind of parent. While the majority of them will be good-natured, you’ll still likely meet some difficult parents who can be unreasonable and simply out-of-control.

Difficult parents are often the ones who are overly involved and meddle in their kids’ lives. While their intentions are good, their over protectiveness can result in ugly and unruly behavior.

These parents are the ones who complain when they feel their kids are being overlooked or humiliated. They get angry when their child is barely scratched or lightly bumped.

There are ways to avoid problems with out-of-control parents before they arise like having a parent meeting before the season starts. During this meeting, it’s crucial to set expectations. Go over the rules and guidelines. Some coaches even create a “parent code of conduct.”

However, despite our best intentions and preparation, parents may lose their way and forget everything that was discussed and agreed on. You’re now mid-season, and a difficult parent may be ruining the fun for everyone.

Here are a few tips on how to handle out-of-control parents:


Never Talk to a Parent Who is Yelling at You

This is a general rule, parent or not. The last thing you want is for the situation to escalate into a shouting match. If a parent approaches you yelling, calmly tell them that you will speak with them at a later time.


Talk to the Parent at a Later Time in Private

The parent may want to discuss the situation immediately after the game. There are even parents who will refuse to leave the venue until they’ve been heard. However, emotions are still likely heightened. Try to schedule your talk the day after the game.


Have Another Adult Present During Your Meeting

It’s ideal to have the assistant coach or someone else from the league organization present for the meeting with the parent. Another adult present would be a witness in the event that an incident occurs.


Hear Out Their Side Without Interrupting

It’s tempting to dispute their comments especially if they sound absolutely unreasonable. However, interrupting may only aggravate the situation. Hear them out.


Keep Your Cool

If the parent lost their cool at the game, there’s a big chance they may lose their cool during your meeting. Even if they’ve had an entire day and even slept off their anger, reliving the issue during your meeting may set them off again.

If they at any point start to speak to you in a language or tone that is unacceptable, tell them to stop. Otherwise, you will end the meeting. If this angers them even more, politely excuse yourself from the conversation.


Respond Responsibly

You may not agree with their argument but do acknowledge their points. Assure them that you understand where they’re coming from. Explain your side. At the end of the day, you and the parent do have something in common, and that’s to ensure that their child has the best possible sports experience.

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