Master of Education in Applied Human Development Graduate Projects


Alyson Johnson


This paper develops a guide for improving involvement of parents and other adult contributors’ in youth sport for children aged 6-12 years. The purpose of this guide is to provide practical and applied suggestions for parents grounded in research from the fields of sport psychology, developmental psychology, and parenting psychology. Monsaas (1985) and Wolfenden and Holt (2005) emphasized the importance of having a strong parental support network in youth sport. Knight & Holt (2013) noted that parents would benefit from more specific direction regarding how to show support for their children. To fill this need, the guide utilizes Self Determination Theory (SDT), which proposes that when three specific needs are met (autonomy, relatedness, and competence) athletes will be more motivated (Ryan & Deci, 2000). To help parents better understand the components of parenting in youth sport, the autonomy- supportive parenting style is introduced, which is closely related to SDT, postulates that children thrive when they are supported in initiating their own decisions, and that children are influenced by their overall environment and emotional climate (Holt, Tamminen, Black, Mandigo, and Fox, 2009). Additionally, the guide includes a 3M structure (Manager, Meaning Maker, and Model of parenting in youth sport) as action oriented steps for parents and other influencers of youth sport. The Manager encompasses all of the physical, financial, and emotional aspects of managing a child in sport. The Meaning Maker in sport occurs as parents utilize sport experiences to teach their children the benefits of sport and the value of teamwork and individual effort. And the Model ensues when parents model their own effort, personal sport participation, and positive sporting behaviors to their children. This guide is designed to be used both individually by parents and coaches, and in group settings aided by a facilitator.


Dr. David A Tobar

Second Reader

Dr. Geoff Meek