Monkey see, monkey do: How sideline sports behaviors affect kids

Monkey see, monkey do: How sideline sports behaviors affect kids

When it comes to children participating in sports, it’s not just their own actions on the field that matter. The behaviors exhibited by parents and other spectators on the sidelines can have a significant impact on a child’s experience and development. In this article, we will explore the concept of “monkey see, monkey do” and how it relates to sideline sports behaviors and their effects on kids.

The power of observation

Children are highly observant and tend to imitate the actions and behaviors of those around them. This phenomenon, often referred to as “monkey see, monkey do,” is particularly evident in sports settings where parents and other spectators are present. Kids look up to their parents as role models and are likely to mimic their behaviors, both positive and negative.

The impact of positive behaviors

Positive sideline sports behaviors, such as cheering, encouraging, and showing good sportsmanship, can have a profound impact on a child’s sports experience. When children see their parents and other spectators displaying positive behaviors, they are more likely to feel supported, motivated, and confident in their abilities. This positive reinforcement can contribute to their overall enjoyment of the sport and foster a healthy attitude towards competition.

The dangers of negative behaviors

On the other hand, negative sideline sports behaviors can be detrimental to a child’s sports experience and development. Yelling, berating officials, and displaying unsportsmanlike conduct can create a hostile and stressful environment for young athletes. Children who witness such behaviors may become anxious, lose confidence, and even develop a negative attitude towards sports. Moreover, they may start imitating these negative behaviors themselves, perpetuating a cycle of poor sportsmanship.

Setting a positive example

As parents and spectators, it is crucial to be mindful of our behaviors on the sidelines. By setting a positive example, we can create a supportive and nurturing environment for our children. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Focus on cheering and encouraging rather than criticizing.
  • Show respect towards officials, coaches, and opposing teams.
  • Emphasize the importance of fair play and good sportsmanship.
  • Avoid putting excessive pressure on your child to perform.
  • Teach your child to learn from both victories and defeats.


Sideline sports behaviors have a significant impact on children’s sports experiences and development. By being mindful of our actions and setting a positive example, we can create an environment that fosters enjoyment, growth, and good sportsmanship. Remember, children are always watching and learning from us, so let’s make sure we provide them with the best possible role models.