I Want My Son to Play a Sport and Win

I received the following email from a parent:  “My son is getting older and I would like to enroll him in a sport this summer.  I have heard horror stories about parents pushing their kids to win, so how do I encourage him to do his best and want to win without making him feel pressured?”

First of all I want to acknowledge this mom as an awesome parent for wanting to get your son involved with a sports activity.  Both the physical activity and his experience with a team will contribute greatly to his development.  But most importantly, it will keep him off of the video screen and out of his room for a good portion of the time over the summer.

A crucial part of keeping this boy motivated to continue with an activity requires this mom to control and limit the things that would keep her son from wanting to participate in a sport; such as his video games and computer.  I encourage her to put a limitation of time on these time-wasting distractions and definitely keep them out of his room. 

Unless the child was raised with a limitation on entertainment electronics, many boys may not want to go out and "sweat it up" when they can instead, remain in the comfort of their room on YouTube or play with their Xbox.  It's up to this mom to put controls on these nonessential distractions to help keep him focused.

Because of the indisputable psychological fact that children and teens often cooperate the least with the mother, I suggest she reach out to any male family members that your son favors and call them in for assistance.  Have one of these guys (grandfathers, uncles, neighbors, cousins, etc.) individually spend some time with your son, helping him come up with sports that he enjoys. 

And the activity he picks doesn't necessarily have to be a sport.  Some children and teens may find that scouting or table games may be more to their liking.  Everyone isn't wired to want to play an active sport on a team.  There are many activities that will challenge a child or teen and don’t require competition or game play.

If her son is not sure what activity he would like to get involved in, I suggest that she ask the selected male family member to take her son to a few events that he can investigate and observe.  It is very likely that the male family member will be more successful than the mother at getting her boy to open up and explore his likes and dislikes.

Finally, I urge this mom to help her son focus more on what  sport he likes to play, rather than what sport he would like to win at.  We would all love for our kids to strive to win at what they do, but any philosophical teacher will remind you that it's not winning a game that matters, but playing the game that makes it all worth while.

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