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“Parent at home. Coach at practices and games,” is Mr. Smoll’s motto.

Ask your son or daughter to call you “Coach” on the field. “That helps, in the child’s mind, to solidify the role separation,” Mr. Smoll said.

When it comes to positions and playing time, Mr. Smoll said, they need to be earned. Relying on statistics can help with the tough decisions, but coaches may need to contend with injuries or absences.

For children, criticism is always difficult to hear, especially when it’s Mom or Dad talking. Researchers recommend enlisting good assistant coaches and relying on them to talk to your child if a problem arises.

“Everybody struggles coaching their own child from time to time,” Mrs. Hocker said, adding that she and her assistant coaches “always agreed to help each other.”

When Mr. Armstrong’s son makes a good play, he doesn’t cheer any louder than he does for the other boys, or he simply stays quiet.

“I let my assistant coaches be excited for them,” Mr. Armstrong said. “That’s how I take pride in it — that everybody else is proud of them.”