Competitive parents are training their children in preparation for track and field events – on school sports day, it has emerged.
A study carried out among 2,000 parents found one in three have trained, coached or advised their children in a bid to improve their chances of victory on the big day; shockingly, one third of parents wouldn’t stop their child from cheating while just over one in ten actively admit encouraging them to cheat if that’s what it takes for them to win the event.
It also emerged mums and dads can be just as guilty of adopting a win at all costs attitude during the mums and dads races, with one in five admitting they would cheat if they could.
Stories included a mum who admitted using chewing gum to stick the egg to the spoon for the egg and spoon race, and another mum who confessed to going running every night for a week to make sure she won the sprint race.
The trend was revealed following a study carried out by Early Learning Centre, whose spokesperson said: ‘’Whilst we all want our children to enjoy sports and get the most from school events it’s important to teach children that taking part and team spirit are important factors of sport.
“Not all children will have natural sporting ability so it’s vital that they feel part of a team regardless of their sporting prowess.
“Encouraging children to do well and practicing a few different sports in the garden is one thing but encouraging children to cheat is taking things too far.
“Taking part in sports is vital to a child’s development, learning about co-operation, developing their gross motor-skills, keeping healthy and active and most of all having fun”
The study found nearly half of all parents admit they have a competitive streak when it comes to their kids, with one in three of the mums and dads polled admitted they put their son or daughter through their paces at the local park to give them a better chance of sports day glory.
The research revealed that four out of ten parents also encourage their child to be more competitive with one in ten saying that they get more upset than their child does if they don’t win.
More than a third push their child so they have the best chance of winning while one in ten admit to having made their child practice ahead of sports day.
One quarter said they encourage their child to do whatever it takes to get an edge over the competition with the research revealing that parents have in the past helped their child to poke feet holes in sacks, trip other children up and even distract other children so they have a better chance of victory; one in five even admit to having helped their child stick an egg to their spoon, while a quarter admit to offering incentives to their child if they win.
The report also showed that parents often felt disappointed, upset, angry and let down when their child didn’t win at sports day events.
The blame was placed on schools by 36 per cent of parents who complained that they don’t encourage their child to be competitive enough.
The study revealed that dads were both more competitive than mums and also more likely to help their child cheat, while mums on the other hand were more likely to encourage their child to practice and to also allow their child to win; however, all in all, thirty five per cent of parents said they were more competitive than their children when it came to sports day.
Other stories which emerged from the report included a mum who admitted she held the beanbag on her head as she romped to victory on sports day, while another confessed to bribing her children with a trip to EuroDisney if they won the sprint race.
The ELC spokesperson added: “Cheating aside, sports day and preparing for sports day inspires children to get active and play outside.
With the Olympics just around the corner, children will be able to see a whole range of sporting events and hopefully become inspired to take up a new sport and enjoy the value of team spirit.
At Early Learning Centre we have a huge range of outdoor toys that will encourage families to play together and have lots of fun and laughter in the fresh air.”