Parental communication and reflective practice among youth sport parents


Parents can enhance their children's intrinsic motivation by providing positive and supportive feedback within an autonomy supportive environment (Holt et al., 2009). However, there is limited research available that has demonstrated how parents might learn to engage in these supportive behaviours with their child. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine how parental awareness of communication influences parent and athlete perceptions of communication in sport. The study consisted of pre- and post- study measures of parental involvement, parenting styles, and quality of communication, and interviews among 10 parents and 10 athletes (M = 14 years). Parents also completed audio diaries based on Gibbs' (1988) reflective cycle to engage in critical reflection about their communication with their child over the course of six weeks. Analysis of the pre- and post- study surveys demonstrated that despite some changes in the overall quality of parent-athlete communication, in most cases parents were not congruent with their child's perceptions of communication. Analysis of the qualitative data led to the identification of themes related to perceived changes in parents' communication behaviour, parental awareness of child's development, and perceived changes in parenting style. More specifically, reflective practice and increased awareness of parent-child communication led parents to engage in more autonomy supportive parenting style, and to be less critical of their child's performance. These findings advance the current state of research on parent-child communication in sport by providing a framework for parents to improve their communication with their child using reflective practice.