Ask Kari: How can I stop my child’s soccer coach from being verbally abusive?

Dear Kari,

I am very concerned about my child’s soccer coach and how he interacts with my daughter. My daughter is on a select team and they all work very hard to grow their skills and win games, but it never seems to be enough for their coach as he yells at them constantly with little positive reinforcement. When I mention it to the other parents of the girls on the team, they all shrug their shoulders and act like such behavior comes with the territory. How can I advocate for my daughter and demand that her coach stop being abusive towards her?

Momma Bear

Dear Momma Bear,

I want to help you empower both you and your daughter. While it may be the message of the team overall to just put up with abusive behavior, you do not have to.  When we allow people to speak inappropriately to us and treat us poorly, we message to them that we are inferior and that we will accept abuse. Just because you are the only parent who is willing to speak out about your daughter’s abusive coach means little overall. You matter even as one person. Your feelings and opinions matter even if your voice is the only one speaking. I suggest that you talk with your daughter about her feelings about her coach and also share your feelings with her. Then, involve her in the process of sharing her feelings with her coach along with you. His response will speak volumes or not, about whether you and your daughter should remain involved in the team.  Team sports should be about growing one’s spirit, not breaking it down. Good luck.


As published in the May 2016 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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