My 11 year old son Paul is trying out for his middle school basketball team next month. Lots of boys are trying out, only 10 will be selected. My son isn't the best player and I am not confident he will make the team. I don't want to discourage him but I also don't want to build up his expectations and then see him crushed. What should I do?
The worst thing as a parent is not being able to shield your child about the harsh realities of sports and life. You never want them to fail, but if you don’t teach them to try they will always back down when challenged. The chance of failure can be a great opportunity to teach your child an important life skill. Even if they fail, you can turn it into a learning experience and they will become stronger. If your son wants to make the team let him know that he has to give it his all, there is no room for excuses. Every day counts, dribble around the house, on the way to school, take him to the park to shoot, have him committed to his goal. Most importantly be realistic about his chances, let him know that this will be a tough team to make but he will know that he did everything he could to be the best he could be. I know a lot of athlete’s who got cut from teams; which only made them work harder so they would be ready the next time around. If he doesn’t make it, and still wants to play, set up a plan for him to keep working till the next tryout. See if there is a less competitive club team or even a group of kids that get together to play. It could even be another sport that will make him more prepared. If you don’t give up he will follow your lead. Quitting teaches your child only that they are not good enough; failing can be turned into an opportunity to learn to overcome disappointments.