My child is being bullied in youth sports - How to deal with it?

My child is being bullied in youth sports - How to deal with it?

When you sign your child up for a new sports team, you hope they will have the best time ever, full of fun and friendship, learning new skills and keeping healthy. As a parent there is nothing more heartbreaking to find out your child’s new sporting adventure has been overshadowed by bullying.

Whether it’s the coach or a kid that’s being mean to your child, this is something that can have a negative effect on both of you. Thankfully there are some things you can do to help.

Bullying in Youth Sports

Bullying is horrible but unfortunately it happens often, especially in summer camps and team sports. Bullying can have a bad effect on a kid’s mental health and can turn them off sports which in turn will lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. Here are some reasons why bullying happens:

  • Targeting kids who aren’t performing as well as the other kids.
  • Harassing kids who make a mistake during a game.
  • The ‘leader’ of the group who doesn’t like a kid and the rest follow.
  • Targeting someone because they get more praise from the coach.
  • Testing and intimidating a new member of the team to see if they ‘belong’.
  • Targeting shy kids who aren’t as confident as the others.
  • Intimating the best players to bring down their confidence as they are stealing the limelight.
  • Bullying because of an experience in a different setting for example - school.

How to help your child deal with this kind of bullying?

Learn and read more about bullying, the risks associated with bullying, how to identify the warning signs of bullying.

Communication & Listening

When discussing bullying with your child it is important to let them do most of the talking. By listening to your child, you can really understand the problem and the situation. This will make you better equipped to find a solution.

Empower Your Child

Instead of confronting the coach about the problem straight away, first give your child the tools to fix the problem themselves. Let them know they can walk away from the situation or use their voice to confront the bully. They can say “You need to stop calling me names, I am here to have fun, Stop Now!” Teach them how to defend themselves against a bully and how to stand up to a bully. 

Telling the Coach

Before telling the coach, ask your child if they’d like for you to tell the coach. The child might be afraid of extra bullying for getting your parents involved. If they are not comfortable, speak to them about possible solutions to fix the problem. A good coach will be able to identify the problem and cut it off from the beginning. 

Being Brave

Can your child tell the coach themselves? This will build up character and confidence to be able to extinguish future situations.

The Next Step

If you do need to step in and get involved, make sure the coach knows that your aim is to help your child have fun and also feel safe. Speak to the coach in a professional manner as it is not necessarily the coach's fault as he may have been aware that this was happening. Make sure to follow up with the coach if this doesn’t continue.


If this isn’t solved and you’ve taken all these steps, it may be best to take your child out of this situation. The main thing is the child has fun and if there is another team he/she can join, this may be the best option. Always communicate with your child about what they want to do. 

We created Klaas Kickz to help children learn the basics of football, to help them feel confident, make friends and have fun. We believe that if a child has learned the basics before they join their team or summer camp, it will eliminate some of the reasons why children get bullied. You can now follow along with our training videos on to help your child learn fun new football skills.

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