Parents and emotions in youth sport: A scoping review


Promoting high quality sport parenting that increases children's chances at having positive psychosocial experiences in sport is a priority for youth sport researchers and stakeholders. A key component of high quality sport parenting is parents' ability to manage the emotional demands of youth sport, particularly their ability to regulate their emotions and engage in emotionally intelligent interactions within the youth sport environment (Harwood & Knight, 2015). Understanding the emotional demands parents face and the associated behaviours they exhibit may help in developing effective strategies for navigating those demands. As such, this scoping review explored what is known in the existing literature about the emotional demands parents face and how they use, understand, and manage emotions in relation to their child's sport participation. Seventy-seven original research publications which addressed parenting and emotions in youth sport were identified from a search of ten electronic databases. Data pertaining specifically to sport parents and emotions were extracted from the publications and subject to thematic analysis. Findings are represented through four themes: Understanding parents' emotions (i.e., what emotions sport parents experience and why), emotions as a shared experience (i.e., parents' ability to empathize with their child), providing emotional support (i.e., parents' ability to communicate affection and warmth, particularly during times of distress), and emotion-focused coping and regulation (i.e., strategies used to manage emotional demands, such as seeking social support and venting). Potential avenues for future research are discussed, including recommendations for the development and evaluation of education initiatives to enhance sport parents' emotion abilities.