Back to School is a tough time for parents as well as the kids. When the teenagers and pre-teens are involved in sports, the emotional side of athletics can make school time even more stressful and frustrating.
I had a chance to discuss these issues with Teen Expert and Editor of Radical Parenting, Vanessa Van Petten. Trying out for sports teams and the sometime disappointment of not making the team can leave parents at a loss of how to address these emotional highs and lows. Vanessa Van Petten had some great advice for parents in these situations.
The first thing I asked Vanessa was how to handle the letdowns associated with a child not making the team they wanted to make. She responded, “Not making the team can be a difficult personal setback for your teen, but a great learning opportunity. First, parents should let their teen vent and explore their upset.”
“Don’t discourage your teen from displaying the hurt or frustration about not making the team. They need to get these negative feelings out of their system. Second, once they have begun to calm down help them break down what happened.”
“Was it skill level? Were they having an off day? Did they not get along with the coach? By exploring what happened you are helping your teen begin to go into solution mode. Lastly, talk to your teen about some proactive steps they can take to get on the team next year.”
“Brainstorm ways to get additional practice or perhaps even go out for a second try out. By following these steps you are giving your teen a lifelong lesson in how to deal with failure and to know that personal setbacks only make you want to work harder.”
Another area that can make parenting difficult is when one child is athletic and a second one isn’t. This can be difficult especially is the second child feels bad about themselves as a result of the difference in skill level.
When it comes to these situations, Vanessa recommends, “If parents have one child who excels in athletics and another who doesn’t, it is very important for the family to make an effort to place equal emphasis on varied skills and activities. For example, instead of watching sports all weekend or having the family go to every game, be sure to spend family time on your other child’s hobbies.”
“If your child enjoys space exploration, go to the local museum for events. If your child enjoys singing, watching singing competition shows on TV and go to a local concert. It is important to show non-athletic children that different hobbies are just as important and valuable as sports.”
Teenagers can be moody, up one minute and down the next. However, I wanted to know what the best way is to help a child who suffers from low self-esteem. Vanessa replied, “Low self-esteem is one of the hardest issues for both parents and teens. The best way to help a teen with low self-confidence is to find them activities and hobbies that make them feel accomplished and strong.”
“Many teens get low self-esteem when they feel behind in school and sports. But these are not the only activities where teens can excel. Parents should sit down with their teen and brainstorm alternative activities that are just as meaningful and interesting.”
“Whether that’s robotics, painting or kayaking, help your teen find their activity where they can excel. Not only will mastering a new hobby help them feel good, it can also be a great resume booster and a way to make new friends, all great for self-esteem.”
Teenagers are competitive and can be cruel when bragging about how much better they are at something than their friends are. I asked Vanessa how to address these types of unhealthy relationships.
“Parents have to tread carefully when dealing with their child’s friends. As teens grow up, they use friendships and bonds as a way of exploring their own identity. If parents criticize or forbid certain friendships they run the risk of alienating their child.”
“There are two ways parents can deal with their child’s unhealthy friendships. First, model and discuss your own friendship concerns. For example, talk to your child about your own past unhealthy friendships and how difficult it was to deal with. This can help a teen think about their own friendships critically.”
“Second, encourage the right friendships. Parents can encourage their teen to invite or spend time with friends who are a better influence by taking them on family outings or promising sleepovers with the more positive friends.”
If you have a teenager that your are struggling to help, or if you are interested in more of Vanessa Van Petten’s great advice, check out her website at www.radicalparenting.com.
If you liked this article and want instant updates of all the celebrity stories, click the Subscribe button. To keep up with everything Kelly writes, follow her on Facebook and Twitter or connect on Pinterest. Find more by Kelly on her website.
©Kelly Cozzone, All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author. The first two sentences may be reposted with a link back to the original article.