Counseling a Child & Parent Off a Sport that Child Doesn’t Really Like
by Author: Catherine Collings M.S.C.S.M. (CEO Ultimate Edges of Excellence)
As an elite figure skating coach and hockey skating technique specialist of over, cough 37, cough… years, I have seen all types of athletes in figure skating, hockey and ringette!
The one athlete that really bothers me is the unhappy one!
Recently I have witnessed this again and honestly, as a parent that had one of those kids and as a coach of many years that has worked with many of those kids, you need to COUNSEL your child out of that chosen sport!
It is not just hockey or figure skating that this happens in, but pretty much any sport!
We’ve all seen this kid: they drag themselves into the rink, ever so slooooowly put on their skates, gets on the ice like they are going to prison, and skates around aimlessly, ( On a personal note my daughter, would be the first one ready and on the ice, all gung ho ) and then ……
Exit the ice surface to retie the skates, to adjust the pony tail or flow, to get a drink of water, potty time, hide in the change room and read a book. When they do participate, they practice elements that they learned three years ago and don’t work on anything new or half-hazardly follow the plays that are being worked on in that vital practice before the big play-off game!
Parents, I’m going to tell it to you straight: you need to get your child out of that sport! The other parents are not saying anything when your child whines in the lobby or complains in the parking lot. They are too polite and they’ve known you for years, they are your friends and they don’t want to offend you by initiating that horribly awkward conversation with you.
SO….. I’m going to do it!
Previously I wrote and published an article on Ultimate Edges of Excellence “THE FINANCIAL CHALLENGE OF RAISING AN ELITE ATHLETE”(01/30/15). Let’s face it! Sport is expensive so, save your money and find your athlete something to do outside of that particular sport!
Mom … Dad , I’m not trying to be mean. Really. I like you. I even like your whiny kid, when their away from the rink and having fun. It’s just painful to watch the scene your athlete makes every week/day and it’s painful to know that you are scraping together the money to provide them the opportunity to achieve greatness in their sport.
HERE’S HOW YOU DO IT!
1. Cold turkey. (This is the most effective method) Just take a break. Maybe a month. Maybe two. When the time for the next registration comes around, ask your athlete if they miss it. They probably don’t.
2. Maintain those friendships (both the child’s and yours). Arrange for times to spend with their (former) teammates. Keep those friendship ties, but do it away from the sport. On a personal note: My daughter wanted hockey over figure skating, great! She loved hockey and I loved her loving hockey as I didn’t have to listen to the whining! However; she maintained those friendships she made from figure skating and continues to many years later.
3. Go with the flow (Definitely not my favorite, but sometimes they need to jump on that band wagon). Ask your child what their school friends enjoy. I don’t care if it’s crocheting (and anyone that knows me knows, I have told many an athlete to either give it 110% or take up crocheting); find a way for your child to join in.
4. Substitute. At the very same time that your child would be normally training in their sport, find something wonderful, marvelous, and adventurous for them to try. It’s worth the money.
5. Bait-n-switch. If you want your child to stay in a sport for the physical exercise, find what they love about this particular sport and apply it to the new one. Examples: Does your figure skater like the musicality of figure skating? Try dance. Does your hockey player like to skate fast? Try speed skating? The list is endless.
6. The long goodbye (definitely my least favorite). Reduce the time at the sport venue so gradually that they don’t even notice it happening. Pretty soon they will be weaned off of that sport. Again, sport is expensive, so, spending hard earned money this way… definitely my least favorite!
7. Reward. When your child is trying the new activity, gush appropriately. Watch them and be amazed. Encourage them to talk about their new activity and how very, very cool it is. Reward them for the positivity!
Parents don’t listen to your kid when they say in that whiny voice that they love their sport and don’t want to quit. Instead, listen to their behavior. Listen to their attitude, their actions, and their level of activity. These are all be good indicators that this sport isn’t for them.
Be strong! You can do it.
Tell them that just because they don’t like that particular sport as much as they thought, it is not failure and it does not make them a bad person. They just need to find that passion, that giant spark, that special interest that will take them from WHINY TO WONDERFUL!
GIVE YOUR CHILD PERMISSION TO QUIT!
Please. I promise I’ll stay in touch. We’ll have lunch. We’ll catch up and laugh. We will chat on Facebook! I will see the photo’s your child on their horse, at the gym, on stage! The child will be beaming with pride and we will both gush appropriately on line!