Monday 11 December 2017

'I don't criticise, I encourage them'

John O'Donnell lives in Killiney, Dublin, with his wife, Cora, and their sons, Seán (13), Conor (10) and Cillian (seven).


"Whether I'm watching my sons play soccer, Gaelic or rugby, I'm always one of the loudest parents at the side of the pitch. My focus is encouragement, never criticism.

"I coach rugby at Seapoint Rugby Club and I'm all for parents coming along to support and being loudly vocal in their encouragement from the sidelines. Some yell criticism, but most yell positive comments. I've heard parents shout the words 'useless' and 'rubbish' at their kids. I can't understand how anyone could do that.

"Sometimes when I'm watching as a parent, I think like a coach and I instruct from the side. But when I do that, I always do it in a positive way.

"After their matches, my boys tell me what they thought of whatever I might have yelled at them. They argue their points and I listen. It's always done in a positive, constructive fashion, and as we're all on the same side, it works for us."


"My dad always shouts support for me when I'm playing rugby, which is nice. He's always encouraging, never critical. Even so, I can feel a bit frustrated when I do something bad.

"I'm always glad when he comes to support me. When I have kids, I will do the same for them."


"When my dad watches me play rugby and soccer, he shouts encouragement and no matter what's going on in the game, I always hear him.

"Nearly all the dads shout, but few do it as much as mine. Sometimes it's hard, as it can make me feel that I have to play my best. I know he wants to help me. That's why I'm always glad when he comes to watch."


"My dad is my rugby coach. Sometimes I play matches where he isn't coaching and he watches with other parents. He stands quietly and doesn't shout anything to me. I like that."

Irish Independent

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