In year 6, I was cut from the school football team. I was devastated. I cried. I couldn’t’ see the justice in it! Now on reflection, it was totally right. I was pretty rubbish at football and so it was a fair call.
Here is a painful truth, which applies to all children regardless of sporting talent. They will get dropped. Maybe in year 6, maybe at 16 or 18 from their club academy, or perhaps when they choose to retire from playing at a higher level. Either way, there will come a time when they are not good enough to be on the team. In adult life, there are similar moments of disappointment. Speaking to a number of retired people, even those who couldn’t wait to finish work, retirement felt like being left on the bench. As I approach 40, I too deeply struggle with the fact that my competitive sports days are behind me.
Parents have a key role in helping their children be realistic and manage their expectations and disappointment. I am following a body builder of Facebook and he has just snapped his Achilles. Proper Ouch. He is giving it large that this will not affect him, he will make a record-breaking recovery. Now he may, but it all smells like being unable, and unwilling to be realistic and honest.
As parents, if we are to help our children, we need to help keep them honest. There is no point in getting cross with the coach, in fact, it is very arrogant and inspires arrogance if you do. Arrogance is not a team character trait and will be carried into the rest of life. Not helpful.
Here are some things you can do when you child gets dropped:
It’s OK to be angry, it ok to be upset. Give your child the space to grieve and do lots of listening.
Ask who else has experienced this type of setback and what did they do? Like when Brain O Driscoll was dropped from the Lions.
If you can talk to the coach about what needs to be worked on, do.
Help your child see that team and character skills they have are transferable.
Ask your child what’s next for them to try and reach my goals and to help me keep growing?
Things not to say: “You’ll get over it” (true, but not helpful)
“You are better of without them.” Not a good attitude in someone trying to be part of a team.
“Let’s find another club”. This might be your next move, but it’s work seeing if your child can work on aspects of their sport to improve, people club hop far too often.
It also helps if you have made sure your child has a rounded life. I know high-level sport leaves little time for anything else, but having other interests and hobbies help when injured or dropped.
But the main work for handling being dropped is done long before it happens.
Your child can still have the dream of becoming an elite sports person, but make sure they know it’s a big ask.
No parent will love their child less if they don’t get selected, but the passion parents show for their children to get selected tells their child a different story.
When your child loses a match, point out the better team won, even if your child doesn’t believe it. If you don’t get selected it’s because there were people better than you. Having an honest understanding of missing out on the better team/ person helps children handle being dropped more honestly.
You need to help your child have a measured view of themselves. Telling them they are the best and making out the team are lucky to have them does not produce the character to have good self-esteem. That’s just flattery and makes being dropped harder and more painful whenever it comes.
Every parent wants their child to achieve their dreams, but you will help your child be more successful in life if you help them get ready for the day they are dropped.
I have 20 years experience of working with families, helping parents raise children with the self-confidence and self-esteem to be a world changer is what I enjoy doing and turns out I am pretty good at.
I’m a dad of three ( all of whom can rap the first part of Ice Ice baby by Vanilla Ice), all three would say I am not a perfect dad but then who is… but I am a great at being me.