Are parents pushing young athletes into doping?
The study examined 129 boys with an average age of 17. The subjects were asked questions related to four aspects of perfectionism: perfectionistic strivings, perfectionistic concerns (such as fear of making a mistake), parental pressure to be perfect, and the coach’s pressure to be perfect.
Researchers found that only parental pressure made the students more likely to use banned substances – more so than pressure from coaches or from their own perfectionistic tendencies.
“With the rise of so-called ‘tiger’ parenting, in which strict and demanding parents push their children to high levels of achievement, this study reveals the price that young athletes may choose to pay to meet their parents’ expectations and dreams,” said lead researcher Daniel J. Madigan.
Parents should be a positive reflection of what is right and wrong with drug consumption.
“Children acquire their core values from their parents,” says Dr. Brent Sylvester, an Advocate Medical Group clinical psychologist at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Kids are much less likely to engage in risky behaviors when parents educate their kids about the risks and openly express their own values and beliefs.”
Researchers concluded that anti-doping programs should target perceived parental pressure early in a student athlete’s career.
Dr. Sylvester agrees. “Focusing on effort and preparation, as opposed to outcomes, will reduce the performance pressure experienced by young athletes and the sense of needing to succeed at any cost,” he says.
Follow-up studies will focus on female athletes in the same age group and on students who play individual rather than team sports.
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