By Dr. Ron Taffel, Family Therapist
My daughter just told me that she wants to quit her soccer team. She said this through tears, then went on to explain that, in her opinion, she's not good enough to play on the team. Apparently, the coach yelled at her in front of the other kids for not trying hard enough.
I'm in a quandary as to what to do. I don't want to force her to continue with something if she really doesn't want to (I was in many similar situations myself as a kid and know what that feels like). However, I think that if she tried a little harder, she would do just fine. I am worried that if I let her quit that I will send a message that if something is too hard, whether it's academics or sports, it's okay to give up. She's used to doing well with little to no effort. Working hard to achieve a level of skill or mastery is a foreign concept to her. Should I push her to work harder? Or should I let her quit?
Ah, this is one of the trickiest ongoing decisions a parent must make over and over again. I immediately relate to it with our own children. Here's what may work for you. Speak to your daughter's coach first. Find out what happened in this incident without putting the coach on the defensive. Remember, with teachers, coaches and other responsible adults in our kids' lives, you're always better off creating an ally. Explain your quandary to the coach and the two of you may come up with a small adjustment-coach's tone, whom she's paired off with, when/how instruction is offered. It's amazing how a child's feelings toward sticking it out can change with these simple mid-course corrections. "Trying hard" in this case means that we parents try to help coaches and kids adapt to each other a little, then we can ask the same kind of "trying" from our kids.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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