How to Deal with a Critical Parent (4-5 Year Old Soccer Team)

Updated on April 11, 2011
R.G. asks from Brentwood, TN
10 answers

I am one of the coaches for my 5 year old son's soccer team. There are 10 children on the team, ages 4-5. There is a child on the team, "Andy," who is very sensitive, cries a lot, and wanders off the field to his parents during the middle of drills and games. I have made a lot of effort to engage this child and encourage him, and feel he is coming around and seems to having a good time. The issue, however, is his father. He has taken to making rude comments directed towards my son. My son is the only kid who will play with his child (we are both there early before practices and games). He gets bent out of shape when my son says or does anything and makes some type of smart remark. I have had some challenges in getting my kid to listen and do what I say during practices (someone on here posted about kids not being able to tell the difference between parent and coach - so true!)
But this guy gets offended when my kid kicks his kid's soccer ball! (That is one of the drills we do. This kid also cries when his own mom kicks his ball.) I'm not sure if he sees my child as "picking on" his kid, but I would definitely be correcting him if that were the case. He even makes remarks when my kid is talking just to ME, when no one is even talking to him. I am going to try and keep my child away from him and his child and avoid any confrontation, but I don't see it letting up (it actually seems to be getting worse). At this point, I feel like I am going to have to say something to this guy (privately). I feel this dad is overcompensating for the fact that his kid is the smallest and youngest on the team and probably isn't ready to be out there yet (there is a reason I waited til my son was five.) I'm sure some will read this and think yeah, the coach's kid is probably a brat. He is no angel, but he isn't doing anything beyond what the other 5 year old kids do (chasing around, etc. - nothing inappropriate). He just happens to be outgoing and confident, where this little guy would sit in mama's lap the whole time (not that there's anything wrong with that!) This guy clearly dislikes my child, or he maybe he just dislikes me and is taking it out on me through my kid. What am I going to do? Help!!

In response to Denise's question, my co-coach is a teenage girl. I haven't spoken to her about this yet but probably should just to see it from her perspective. It isn't as if he yells profanities or insults at my kid, because I would have said something about that immediately. It's the cowardly little sarcastic comments. Don't get me wrong, I love sarcasm, but it isn't really appropriate when directed at little kids.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I totally agree with the must say something. You are the coach and like it or not that is part of your responsibility. Would you let this happen if his remarks were made towards a different child? Your own child deserves no different. If this man continues you may have to talk to the league about him. You can't have parents harassing kids in this manner. I have never seen this happen and my husband has been soccer coach for many years now. Grownups don't just harass little kids...something needs to be done.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Question: How would you handle this situation if this man was treating any of the other little boys on the team the way he is treating your son?

Whatever the answer is, and I suspect you would have spoken to him privately about this before now, that's exactly what you need to do in your own situation as well.

Just because you are doing double-duty as coach and parent doesn't mean your son should be treated differently than any other kid on the team and that includes when he's being mis-treated.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Provo on

I think you need to tell that jerk that your field is a "Negativity free zone" and that if he continues to keep up his bashing of anyone, then he and his son can leave. I would even put up cute stop signs that say "Negativity free zone-Negativity in any sort is not welcome and will be asked to leave" That way your not just zeroing in on him, but everyone. Maybe have a meeting with all parents and explain to them what the sign means. This way you and other parents can ask him to leave since he is not following the rules.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

I'm assistant coach for my son's 4-5 year old team. If someone was acting that way, especially a man, I would NOT consider that being a critical parent. I would consider that being a bully.
PERHAPS I would jump the gun....I sometimes question myself because I have a strong physical reaction to a man that I feel crosses the line (my biological dad was very abusive to my mom before she left, and I think that even though I was very small, it made an impression).
I would walk up to him (with the other coach or my husband) and say "Listen, I know that you are trying to be an involved dad, and that you may have concerns for your son's feelings, but we are running drills, we are playing soccer, and we are trying to keep in mind that your son may be feeling stress with a new sport. But we are the coaches. You need to step back and remember that these are 4-5 year olds, and that you not only should not be coaching from the sideline, but if you have anything at all to say to my son you need to come to me, not him." If he can't handle that, then I would tell him "The rule on this team is that you are a dad, not a coach. You can cheer and encourage from the sideline, but there will be no snarky remarks. You will not be addressing my 4 year old boy. If this is something you can't handle, take your ball and go home, and we will have the association contact you". I absolutely would not be ok with a man being out of line with my 4 year old. This rule of course is different when we are at Kung Fu and the sifu there is talking to my son. Then, he is the responsible party and I sit quietly from the bench and observe. If I had a problem there, I would talk to the sifu in his office privately, and if it couldn't be resolved, I would remove my son from the class (something I don't see happening). I expect the same, I hold others to the same standards. (Though I really really appreciate any parent wanting to give positive input, assisting however they can, and cheering these little kids). If the association didn't back me up and money was an issue, I'd give him a refund and send them away. Am I wrong? Possibly. But I don't care.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lake Charles on

You HAVE to take this guy aside! Obviously this bully never grew up and unless you point out his grossly offensive behavior he's going to teach his kid that when you are at a disadvantage you tease other people to make yourself feel better. Politely ask him to not address your son, if he has an issue to come to you with it. If you or your son are not speaking to him you would appreciate him staying out of the conversation. Tell him you know how your kid likes to play with his and would hate to have to discontinue their time together based on his actions and rude comments. He has to see that your kid is the only one that will tolerate his and maybe he'll grow up. You have to be a good example to your son on how to handle rude people by not letting them walk all over you but by being polite and asking for appropriate behavior in return! Easier said than done but you won't regret it!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I wouldn't let it go on any longer. As the coach you have to step up to the parent and have a discussion whether it is about your kid or the one next to him. This is the sucky part about being a coach! It must stop before it gets any worse. If you talking with him doesn't help maybe the director or who ever is in charge will have to talk with him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

talk to the dad or maybe talk to another parent and see if they can take over coaching for a while to see if things change for your son and his team mates



answers from Pittsburgh on

You say you are "O." of the coaches...what do the other coaches think?

That's kind of weird b/c in our program the parents have to be quiet. Maybe it's time for some new rules during practice and games?



answers from San Francisco on

I agree with the other moms' opinions about taking this guy aside for a quiet chat. I would suggest having a third party present so there is no "confusion" about what was said.

My daughter started soccer when she was four (they start them young here) and I ended up pulling her out because she wasn't emotionally ready. She cried also during drills, and twice took the ball and walked off the field because she was mad at the coach! I was mortified. So I did us all a favor and waited a few years. She's been back playing now for five years and loves it. This situation with the boy on your team does happen and I hope the dad does the right thing for his child, instead of blaming yours.

By the way, thanks for giving your time as a coach. This is a real gift to all of our kids. I hope you have a great season after getting this ironed out.


answers from Lynchburg on

Hi R.

I would offer HIM a job as another assistant coach...

It might serve to direct his...'energy' toward 'team' goals/playing...

Just a thought!

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