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How to Help If Your Child Doesn't Make the Team
Sports often are a big part of many childhood memories and experiences. If your child is interested in sports, there are many possible options. Some teams are more competitive than others, requiring aspiring players to try out. What if your child really wants to play for a certain team, tries out but does not make the team or is cut before the season starts? The website education.com offers some suggestions for handling these situations.
First, acknowledge that your child is disappointed – maybe deeply so. Even young kids can feel the negative emotions of rejection. How you respond to the child’s disappointment can help the child accept the decision and move on with a positive outlook on sports and life in general.
Your work begins before the tryout even occurs. Help your child set a variety of goals for the tryout. Obviously one goal is to make the team. But also emphasize the goals of doing one’s best, being a good sport and learning something new. If you put too much emphasis on playing for the “top” team, you set your child up for disappointment if he or she doesn’t make it. Instead, focus on the tryout as a learning experience, giving the child a chance to measure his or her skills against the skills of peers.
The worst thing you can do if your child is not chosen for or is cut from a team is to respond by getting angry. Don’t call the coach to complain that your child’s talent was not recognized, and certainly don’t vent your displeasure with your child. That can embarrass your child, making the situation worse. And it puts too much emphasis on making the team as a measure of the child’s overall worth and success.
Instead, respond in a level-headed manner. Let your child express how disappointed he or she is, and acknowledge that those feelings are real and valid. Let your child be sad for a while. But then, start to move your child toward understanding the bigger picture. Not everyone who wants to play for a team is chosen. Help your child understand what skills he or she might need to work on in order to improve. Suggest that it might help your child to play on a lower-level team for a season.
You also can remind your child that there are many options, in sports and in other areas. Some kids decide early on that they want to pursue a particular sport and never think about other possibilities. Encourage your child to consider other kinds of sports, or other activities altogether. You know as an adult that you cannot always get everything you want, and that sometimes when you change direction you find yourself in an even better place. Help your child to understand these ideas.
At the end of the day, it’s never easy to see your child sad or rejected. However, as a parent, you want to provide emotional support and the kind of advice and perspective that can help your child process the disappointment and grow from the experience.