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Parental Involvement in Sport: Improving the Quality of Children’s Sport Experiences and Well-being

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Introduction

Sport events surround in our everyday life: Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongyang, the recent FIFA World Cup in Russia, and the European Championship in Glasgow have attired attention of people of all ages throughout the world. As a consequence, more and more children express their desire to start sports: they want to play football as Antoine Greizman, to swim as Michael Phelps, or to become a star of skeleton as Lizzy Yarnold. All these events and people make children dream of becoming world-wide known sportsmen; encourage parents to send their children to sport clubs.

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Everybody knows numerous positive effects of sports on children: in addition to physical health improvement, we can cite the improvement of self-confidence, emotional control, life satisfaction, psychological resilience, team work, cooperation, social intelligence and social well-being (Eime et al., 2013); the reduction of suicidal thoughts and tendencies (Taliaferro et al., 2008). However, this can be achieved only if the child takes pleasure of his trainings and competitions. All the authors share a common thought, that fun and enjoyment are the fundamentals of youth sports (Merkel, 2013; McCarthy, Jones and Clark-Carter, 2008; Weiss, Kimmel and Smith, 2001).

According to the triangle model of Paul Singh (2006), three actors influence on children’s sport experience: a child, on the top of triangle, a coach and parents- on the basis of this triangle. Therefore, parental involvement in youth sports plays a considerable or even determinant role in children’s experience in sports. What is the best way for parents to participate in sport life of their children? How to bring them help and support without excessive control giving them freedom of expression in their leisure time? Researchers try to respond to these questions from the 1980s. From that time to these days, scientific literature contains a large number of research papers on this subject. However, there is a shortage of longitudinal research taking into consideration different types of sports, ages of children, cultural differences between countries. Furthermore, we observe a lack of a final conceptualization theory including all the determinants, parental behaviours and their influence on children’s performance and quality of life.

Parental involvement was defined as “the time, energy and money parents invest in their child’s sport participation including things such as transportation, attending practices and games, providing instructional assistance, and purchasing sport equipment” (Stein, Raedeke and Glen, 1999; cited in Knight et al., 2016). One can notice that this definition is limited only on material and practical support of parents in their children’s sport experience. However, a lot of researchers found that the concept of “parental involvement” includes several characteristics, determining the quality of support and consequences on children well-being.

One of the most important criterion is the intensity of involvement, which can vary from under-involved to overinvolved. This framework was proposed by Hellstedt in 1987 and is still cited in the contemporary research works. According to the author of this model, overinvolved parents focus on wins and results of performance of their child rather than on their happiness and personal development. This concept is close to the notion of “helicopter parenting” developed by Jill Bradley-Geist and Julie Olson-Buchanan in 2013. The authors confirmed the idea, that over-parenting (or helicopter parenting) is an inappropriate tactic, which causes lower openness to new experience, dependency, low self-esteem and moderate well-being of children; enhances anxiety and burnout (Gould, Tuffey, Udry, & Loehr, 1996). On the other side, under-involved parents show no interest in the athletic progression of their child nor in his/her enjoyment of sports activities. As a result, children trying to display their mothers and fathers their new skills, are frustrated and have no motivation to progress. The optimal way of involvement, according to Hellstedt, is moderate involvement, when parents invest time, emotions and money on the child’s sport and give him possibilities to express himself in the sports he prefers.

The second characteristic is the quality of involvement. In 1994, Stein and his colleagues discovered that it was the quality of involvement which was more important than the quantity. A parent can be present all the time for his child’s sport event and bring no support, whether another parent who has less time to devote to his child can encourage him with words and help him much more. At the same time, the quality of involvement can be even harmful for a child. Sometimes, parents with their comments may, intentionally or not, disappoint their child, deprive him of enjoyment from sports, and even result in reluctance to continue sports (Bean et al., 2014). Sometimes, they project their own desires for children to achieve something they didn’t achieve (Knight and Holt, 2013); sometimes they are affected by life stressors and cannot provide their children with adequate support in sports (Harwood and Knight, 2009). Various types of parental comments (Holt, 2008), behaviours (Lauer, 2010) play a decisive role in children’s enjoyment in sport.

On the third time, the type of parental support is also important in child’s well-being in his sport activities. Wolfenden and Holt (2005) proposed three groups of parental support: emotional, tangible and informational. The typology of Camilla Knight and her colleagues (2016) is close to the latter. According to this research team, there are 4 profiles of parental involvement in sport: supporters (focus on enjoyment); coaches (performance-based feedback), administrators (avoiding injuries and burnout, try to make a child participate in competitions) and providers (offering children opportunities to participate; ensure the presence of the equipment and clothing required). In our opinion, each of this type has its consequences on child’s perception of his sport activity and, evidently, influences his emotional well-being.

It is clear, that previously described short state of literature needs to be further analysed and better structured. The key point for us now is the enjoyment of a child and his pleasure of participation in sports. As we have seen it before, parents can improve the children’s experience in sports and provide them a better well-being, or on the contrary, traumatize them and contribute to depression and anxiety. That is why, we increasingly speak about the necessity of making youth sport safe: deprived of coach/team mates/coach agression, incidents and burn-outs. Taken together, these findings highlight the need for further exploration of this question. It is important to discover the antecedents of parental style of sports involvement, how they influence children well-being, and finally, whether the educational programme for parents can improve their style of parenting for the better, or at least remove the negative components of it, to minimize the psychological consequences on a child.

Therefore, the aim of this PhD project will be the study of the possible ways to undertake towards the improvement of children’s sport experiences and well-being by influencing on parents. Specifically, the project will include three independent but related to each other studies: a systematic review of the antecedents and consequences of parental involvement in sport; a longitudinal study with a sample of parents and the implementation study of an educational program for parents and evaluation of its efficacy and cost-effectiveness. On the basis of results of the first part of research project, several theoretical hypotheses will be formulated in the second and third parts:

1. Several antecedents of parents’ life experience influence their involvement in sport activities of their children, which in their turn, positively or negatively influence on children’s well-being.

2. The implementation of an educational program for parents of young athletes will, in a significantly positive way, change their quality of involvement, providing as a consequence, better well-being of a child and his general experience in sport activates in comparison with parents without this program.

Methodology

Three years of research work could be organized in the following way:

– 1st year from October 2018 to September 2019: Review of the thematic literature and the preparation of the systematic review. Construction of the operational work plan for the second part of the project: final definition the research plan, preparation of the questionnaire, research and taking contact with sport clubs; set up of a pilot study; obtaining of the ethical approval for the research project by the Department Ethics Committee (DEC).

– 2nd year from September 2018 to September 2019: The start of the longitudinal study in Dundee (Scotland, UK), construction of the sample, distribution and collection of the qualitative and quantitative data and preliminary analyses. The preparation of the third part of research project: construction of the educational program, recruitment of participants (experimental and control groups), start of the third part of the research project: implementation of experimental interventions for Scottish parents.

– 3rd year from September 2019 to September 2021: finishing the longitudinal study and the implementation studies. Completion point of the research projects: statistical analyses of all the data collected; final stage of writing of the PhD thesis; dissemination of the study results and defence of the PhD degree.

Study 1. Systematic Review.

This part of the study will consist in the review of all the literature existing on the subject of parental involvement in sports of their children. We propose to study all the scientific papers dating from the beginning of the assessment of this question – from 1970 to 2018. The following databases of journal articles will be searched for relevant studies: MEDLINE, PsychInfo, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) PubMed and others. The systematic review will contain two separate arms: firstly, the antecedents of parental style of involvement (including factors suspected to influence the style of parenting) and secondly, the consequences of parental involvement on children’s experience and well-being (physical and mental quality of life, level of stress, anxiety and depression).

Study 2 (Longitudinal Study)

Participants and procedure: The procedure of recruitment of participants of the study will take place in the sport clubs of the city of Dundee and its suburbs: Kingoodie, Longforgan, Birkhill, Stathmartine etc. An agreement could take place with the following swim and sport centres: Douglas Sports Centre, Dundee International Sports Centre, Grove Swim and Sports Centre, Olympia Leisure Centre and other centres accredited by the UK government for the organization of youth sport activities. The inclusion criteria will consist in being a parent of a child subscribed to sport activities, and the ability to speak English fluently. All the parents-participants, willing to participate in the study, will sign the written consent, children will be asked to express their agreement verbally. Participation of parents will consist in the completion of the internet-delivered anonymous questionnaire three times during 1 year: at the beginning of the academic year (T1); in the middle (T2) and in the end of academic year (T3). At the same time children will also respond to the questionnaire, in paper or verbal form.

Measures

Study 2 will contain the questionnaires for the parents and their children. The content of the questionnaires for parents will depend on the results of the systematic review and on previous research papers. For example, in order to evaluate parent’s antecedents, we could measure their anxiety and depression with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the percieved quality of life with the The Medical Outcomes Study Short Form (SF-12). Parental style could be assessed through Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (Frick, 1991) or the Parenting Style and Dimension Questionnaire (PSDQ; Robinson et al., 1995, 2001). At the same time, we could adapt the Parental Involvment in Sport Questionnaire (PISQ) by Lee and MacLean (1997) for parents and replace the statements as « Do your parents … » by « Do you».

At the same time, we consider it to be important to assess children’s perception of parental involvement and to follow his/her objective achievements in sports (wins, success, level of performance and motivation to continue) comparing these objective results not with norms or other children, but on the personal level. The purpose, therefore, will be to find the correlation between parental factors (antecedents, level of well-being) on children’s performance and quality of life. Children’s well-being could be evaluated with the help of a special questionnaire, for example, SF-10 Health Survey for Children (CHQ, Landgraf et al., 1998), KIDSCREEN instrument for measuring health-related quality of life in children and adolescents (Ravens-Sieberer et al., 2005), or the KINDL-R questionnaire (Ravens-Siebere, 2003).

Study 3. (Implementation of educational groups)

Participants and procedure: The procedure of recruitment of participants of this Study as well as inclusion criteria can be the same as in the second part of research described previously. All the parents and their children interested in the research project will be randomly assigned at one out of two condition groups: educational program of effective parental involvement in children’s sports (ED); or control group.

Intervention

The educational program for parents will be composed on the basis of the results of two previous parts of research as well as on the basis of the existing literature on this subject. Focus group sessions could be held as well, in order to identify the main difficulties met by parents in their child’s sport activity. The number and duration of sessions, their frequency will be decided on a more advanced stage of the study.

On this stage we could propose such components of the program as:

(1) the definition of parental involvement and its consequences on children;

(2) different styles of parenting, their advantages and disadvantages;

(3) the main difficulties perceived by parents and their management;

(4) the bases of motivational interview for parents;

(5) Stress and anxiety during competitions and (6) conclusion.

Parents-participants of the control group will save their style of involvement in their child sport activities during the time of experimental group interventions (6-7 weeks). They also will have the opportunity to attend group sessions once they finished their participation in the experimental group.

Measures

All the parents-participants will be asked to complete anonymous questionnaires in the Internet three times: before (T1), immediately after (T2) and 3-months after (T3) the end of intervention.

August 14, 2018

Project Proposal by Roslyakova Tamila

Parental Involvement in Sport:

Improving the quality of children’s sport experiences and well-being

Introduction

Sport events surround in our everyday life: Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongyang, the recent FIFA World Cup in Russia, and the European Championship in Glasgow have attired attention of people of all ages throughout the world. As a consequence, more and more children express their desire to start sports: they want to play football as Antoine Greizman, to swim as Michael Phelps, or to become a star of skeleton as Lizzy Yarnold. All these events and people make children dream of becoming world-wide known sportsmen; encourage parents to send their children to sport clubs.

Everybody knows numerous positive effects of sports on children: in addition to physical health improvement, we can cite the improvement of self-confidence, emotional control, life satisfaction, psychological resilience, team work, cooperation, social intelligence and social well-being (Eime et al., 2013); the reduction of suicidal thoughts and tendencies (Taliaferro et al., 2008). However, this can be achieved only if the child takes pleasure of his trainings and competitions. All the authors share a common thought, that fun and enjoyment are the fundamentals of youth sports (Merkel, 2013; McCarthy, Jones and Clark-Carter, 2008; Weiss, Kimmel and Smith, 2001).

According to the triangle model of Paul Singh (2006), three actors influence on children’s sport experience: a child, on the top of triangle, a coach and parents- on the basis of this triangle. Therefore, parental involvement in youth sports plays a considerable or even determinant role in children’s experience in sports. What is the best way for parents to participate in sport life of their children? How to bring them help and support without excessive control giving them freedom of expression in their leisure time? Researchers try to respond to these questions from the 1980s. From that time to these days, scientific literature contains a large number of research papers on this subject. However, there is a shortage of longitudinal research taking into consideration different types of sports, ages of children, cultural differences between countries. Furthermore, we observe a lack of a final conceptualization theory including all the determinants, parental behaviours and their influence on children’s performance and quality of life.

Parental involvement was defined as “the time, energy and money parents invest in their child’s sport participation including things such as transportation, attending practices and games, providing instructional assistance, and purchasing sport equipment” (Stein, Raedeke and Glen, 1999; cited in Knight et al., 2016). One can notice that this definition is limited only on material and practical support of parents in their children’s sport experience. However, a lot of researchers found that the concept of “parental involvement” includes several characteristics, determining the quality of support and consequences on children well-being.

One of the most important criterion is the intensity of involvement, which can vary from under-involved to overinvolved. This framework was proposed by Hellstedt in 1987 and is still cited in the contemporary research works. According to the author of this model, overinvolved parents focus on wins and results of performance of their child rather than on their happiness and personal development. This concept is close to the notion of “helicopter parenting” developed by Jill Bradley-Geist and Julie Olson-Buchanan in 2013. The authors confirmed the idea, that over-parenting (or helicopter parenting) is an inappropriate tactic, which causes lower openness to new experience, dependency, low self-esteem and moderate well-being of children; enhances anxiety and burnout (Gould, Tuffey, Udry, & Loehr, 1996). On the other side, under-involved parents show no interest in the athletic progression of their child nor in his/her enjoyment of sports activities. As a result, children trying to display their mothers and fathers their new skills, are frustrated and have no motivation to progress. The optimal way of involvement, according to Hellstedt, is moderate involvement, when parents invest time, emotions and money on the child’s sport and give him possibilities to express himself in the sports he prefers.

The second characteristic is the quality of involvement. In 1994, Stein and his colleagues discovered that it was the quality of involvement which was more important than the quantity. A parent can be present all the time for his child’s sport event and bring no support, whether another parent who has less time to devote to his child can encourage him with words and help him much more. At the same time, the quality of involvement can be even harmful for a child. Sometimes, parents with their comments may, intentionally or not, disappoint their child, deprive him of enjoyment from sports, and even result in reluctance to continue sports (Bean et al., 2014). Sometimes, they project their own desires for children to achieve something they didn’t achieve (Knight and Holt, 2013); sometimes they are affected by life stressors and cannot provide their children with adequate support in sports (Harwood and Knight, 2009). Various types of parental comments (Holt, 2008), behaviours (Lauer, 2010) play a decisive role in children’s enjoyment in sport.

On the third time, the type of parental support is also important in child’s well-being in his sport activities. Wolfenden and Holt (2005) proposed three groups of parental support: emotional, tangible and informational. The typology of Camilla Knight and her colleagues (2016) is close to the latter. According to this research team, there are 4 profiles of parental involvement in sport: supporters (focus on enjoyment); coaches (performance-based feedback), administrators (avoiding injuries and burnout, try to make a child participate in competitions) and providers (offering children opportunities to participate; ensure the presence of the equipment and clothing required). In our opinion, each of this type has its consequences on child’s perception of his sport activity and, evidently, influences his emotional well-being.

It is clear, that previously described short state of literature needs to be further analysed and better structured. The key point for us now is the enjoyment of a child and his pleasure of participation in sports. As we have seen it before, parents can improve the children’s experience in sports and provide them a better well-being, or on the contrary, traumatize them and contribute to depression and anxiety. That is why, we increasingly speak about the necessity of making youth sport safe: deprived of coach/team mates/coach agression, incidents and burn-outs. Taken together, these findings highlight the need for further exploration of this question. It is important to discover the antecedents of parental style of sports involvement, how they influence children well-being, and finally, whether the educational programme for parents can improve their style of parenting for the better, or at least remove the negative components of it, to minimize the psychological consequences on a child.

Therefore, the aim of this PhD project will be the study of the possible ways to undertake towards the improvement of children’s sport experiences and well-being by influencing on parents. Specifically, the project will include three independent but related to each other studies: a systematic review of the antecedents and consequences of parental involvement in sport; a longitudinal study with a sample of parents and the implementation study of an educational program for parents and evaluation of its efficacy and cost-effectiveness. On the basis of results of the first part of research project, several theoretical hypotheses will be formulated in the second and third parts:

1. Several antecedents of parents’ life experience influence their involvement in sport activities of their children, which in their turn, positively or negatively influence on children’s well-being.

2. The implementation of an educational program for parents of young athletes will, in a significantly positive way, change their quality of involvement, providing as a consequence, better well-being of a child and his general experience in sport activates in comparison with parents without this program.

Methodology

Three years of research work could be organized in the following way:

– 1st year from October 2018 to September 2019: Review of the thematic literature and the preparation of the systematic review. Construction of the operational work plan for the second part of the project: final definition the research plan, preparation of the questionnaire, research and taking contact with sport clubs; set up of a pilot study; obtaining of the ethical approval for the research project by the Department Ethics Committee (DEC).

– 2nd year from September 2018 to September 2019: The start of the longitudinal study in Dundee (Scotland, UK), construction of the sample, distribution and collection of the qualitative and quantitative data and preliminary analyses. The preparation of the third part of research project: construction of the educational program, recruitment of participants (experimental and control groups), start of the third part of the research project: implementation of experimental interventions for Scottish parents.

– 3rd year from September 2019 to September 2021: finishing the longitudinal study and the implementation studies. Completion point of the research projects: statistical analyses of all the data collected; final stage of writing of the PhD thesis; dissemination of the study results and defence of the PhD degree.

Study 1. Systematic Review.

This part of the study will consist in the review of all the literature existing on the subject of parental involvement in sports of their children. We propose to study all the scientific papers dating from the beginning of the assessment of this question – from 1970 to 2018. The following databases of journal articles will be searched for relevant studies: MEDLINE, PsychInfo, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) PubMed and others. The systematic review will contain two separate arms: firstly, the antecedents of parental style of involvement (including factors suspected to influence the style of parenting) and secondly, the consequences of parental involvement on children’s experience and well-being (physical and mental quality of life, level of stress, anxiety and depression).

Study 2 (Longitudinal Study)

Participants and procedure: The procedure of recruitment of participants of the study will take place in the sport clubs of the city of Dundee and its suburbs: Kingoodie, Longforgan, Birkhill, Stathmartine etc. An agreement could take place with the following swim and sport centres: Douglas Sports Centre, Dundee International Sports Centre, Grove Swim and Sports Centre, Olympia Leisure Centre and other centres accredited by the UK government for the organization of youth sport activities. The inclusion criteria will consist in being a parent of a child subscribed to sport activities, and the ability to speak English fluently. All the parents-participants, willing to participate in the study, will sign the written consent, children will be asked to express their agreement verbally. Participation of parents will consist in the completion of the internet-delivered anonymous questionnaire three times during 1 year: at the beginning of the academic year (T1); in the middle (T2) and in the end of academic year (T3). At the same time children will also respond to the questionnaire, in paper or verbal form.

Measures

Study 2 will contain the questionnaires for the parents and their children. The content of the questionnaires for parents will depend on the results of the systematic review and on previous research papers. For example, in order to evaluate parent’s antecedents, we could measure their anxiety and depression with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the percieved quality of life with the The Medical Outcomes Study Short Form (SF-12). Parental style could be assessed through Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (Frick, 1991) or the Parenting Style and Dimension Questionnaire (PSDQ; Robinson et al., 1995, 2001). At the same time, we could adapt the Parental Involvment in Sport Questionnaire (PISQ) by Lee and MacLean (1997) for parents and replace the statements as « Do your parents … » by « Do you».

At the same time, we consider it to be important to assess children’s perception of parental involvement and to follow his/her objective achievements in sports (wins, success, level of performance and motivation to continue) comparing these objective results not with norms or other children, but on the personal level. The purpose, therefore, will be to find the correlation between parental factors (antecedents, level of well-being) on children’s performance and quality of life. Children’s well-being could be evaluated with the help of a special questionnaire, for example, SF-10 Health Survey for Children (CHQ, Landgraf et al., 1998), KIDSCREEN instrument for measuring health-related quality of life in children and adolescents (Ravens-Sieberer et al., 2005), or the KINDL-R questionnaire (Ravens-Siebere, 2003).

Study 3. (Implementation of educational groups)

Participants and procedure: The procedure of recruitment of participants of this Study as well as inclusion criteria can be the same as in the second part of research described previously. All the parents and their children interested in the research project will be randomly assigned at one out of two condition groups: educational program of effective parental involvement in children’s sports (ED); or control group.

Intervention

The educational program for parents will be composed on the basis of the results of two previous parts of research as well as on the basis of the existing literature on this subject. Focus group sessions could be held as well, in order to identify the main difficulties met by parents in their child’s sport activity. The number and duration of sessions, their frequency will be decided on a more advanced stage of the study.

On this stage we could propose such components of the program as:

(1) the definition of parental involvement and its consequences on children;

(2) different styles of parenting, their advantages and disadvantages;

(3) the main difficulties perceived by parents and their management;

(4) the bases of motivational interview for parents;

(5) Stress and anxiety during competitions and (6) conclusion.

Parents-participants of the control group will save their style of involvement in their child sport activities during the time of experimental group interventions (6-7 weeks). They also will have the opportunity to attend group sessions once they finished their participation in the experimental group.

Measures

All the parents-participants will be asked to complete anonymous questionnaires in the Internet three times: before (T1), immediately after (T2) and 3-months after (T3) the end of intervention.

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