The video of the high school cheerleader being physically forced into the splits is not only difficult to watch, but also it's making parents and students question the training tactics of high school sports. Many parents don’t want to scare their kids, but definitely want to avoid this situation from happening in their family.
Start a conversation about sports and sports training by using a real life example as this cheerleading story. Get your kids thoughts about the video and ask what they know. Ask questions about what they think is going on in the video. This allows you to correct any misinformation and guide the conversation.
Your kids know that they're suppose to do what their coaches say. It’s a balancing act because there are many great coaches and sport training develops skills and endurance. And yes, sometimes your kids will be tired and have to push through. You can’t achieve excellence if you give up at the first sign of challenge. But, your kids have to know what’s a reasonable request and what isn’t. Let me give you an example. Let’s say your kid's energy is zapped after a long practice, but they have to run 10 laps. This is where endurance comes into play. They gotta finish the laps even if it’s at a slower pace. But, physically forcing a kid to do something that causes pain and produces fear like what you saw in the video isn’t acceptable. And shouldn’t be tolerated.
So in your chat – talk about what are reasonable expectations and what aren’t. You can also have a conversation with the coach to find out their expectations.
Having discussions about appropriate and inappropriate expectations with your kids let's them not only look out for themselves, but also for their teammates. Kids fear getting into trouble. So even if they’re uncertain about a coach asking them to hold down a student, they still might do it not because it’s right, but because they don’t want to get in trouble. This is where you tell them that they won’t get in trouble for doing the right thing.
Blanca Cobb is a WFMY News 2 Contributing Editor, body language expert and keynote speaker/corporate trainer who covers nonverbal communication, psychology and behavior. Follow her @blancacobb. The opinions expressed in this article are exclusively hers.