During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents became more physically active with their children — but new research suggests that the associated stress has many parents considering how much they can continue to participate.
Research led by Associate Professor Sam Elliott from Flinders University’s SHAPE Research Center showed that parents were more responsive to their children’s physical needs during lockdown, but added greater responsibility and stress to their available time.
This study aimed to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on parental participation in children’s participation in organized sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interviews and online focus group discussions conducted during June 2020 parents and sports participants aged 15-18, found a reshaping of sports parenting identities and an unexpected increase in sports parenting responsibilities—both of which have the ability to influence family commitment and attitudes toward returning to sports.
The study suggests that the indefinite disruption to sport caused by COVID-19 has prompted a reassessment of parental time commitments to youth sport. The findings have important implications for organized sport and wider governing bodies, as parents are a major source of sport volunteering in Australia. In 2021, Sport Australia says 69 per cent of Australian sports volunteers have children at home.
To improve the situation, the researchers recommend policy changes to improve the logistics, information and emotional support Participate in sports for their children and better support parents and children in unexpected stressful situations.
“move forward, Sports club And their state and national governing bodies must consider how best to support parents and families in this challenging, stressful and unpredictable role.
“We believe that government sport bodies, national and state sport governing bodies and clubs need to develop and disseminate research-based, targeted resources to maintain supportive forms of parental engagement during times of stress and uncertainty.
“If they do, clubs can foster a virtuous cycle of support within the family unit that will benefit parents and youth participants.”
Sam Elliott, Aurélie Pankowiak, Rochelle Eime and Murray Drummond’s study ‘Physical parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic: perspectives from Australian parents and adolescents’ is published in the journal Sport and Exercise Psychology.
The pandemic has highlighted the complexities of returning to volunteering for parents, prompting some to reconsider their future club involvement.One survey respondent stated that the mental health impact she felt was club As an administrator throughout the pandemic, her children felt it, too.
The research also sheds light on how parents can help their children cope with lost opportunities to exercise due to COVID-19-enforced lockdowns and restrictions, helping children cope with uncertainty and disappointment by offering perspective and empathy.
To better prepare parents for similar situations in the future, additional informational support can help them choose appropriate and different exercise opportunities.
Associate Professor Elliott said: “Sport and club governing bodies would do well to consider how they can support parents in maintaining a strong and consistent source of support.”
To achieve this, sports governing bodies may consider providing information resources for sports clubs and parents to change training method Participate, develop competencies and be considered relevant to their sporting aspirations and development.
Some ideas might include developing a ‘big picture’ narrative with parents to demonstrate how their contribution and commitment to their child’s sport is linked to increasing the child’s ability to reach their athletic potential, enjoy positive psychosocial sport experiences, and develop a range of positive opportunities. Development outcomes, such as increased confidence and capacity.
Clubs can also renegotiate game and training expectations with families who need to travel long distances to support their children’s sport. By collaborating on a new schedule and revising commitment to training programs, clubs may increase their chances of helping parents navigate rapidly changing policies and stay engaged throughout the pandemic.
While the study was conducted before the full impact of COVID-19 on wider society and culture, the researchers believe the timing of the study has revealed the unique pressures parents and children face around youth sports.
Sam Elliott et al, Physical parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic: perspectives from Australian parents and youth, Sport and Exercise Psychology (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2022.102299
Documenting Increased Stress for Sports Parents in the COVID Era (January 25, 2023)
Retrieved January 25, 2023
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