The roster is posted.
Your child didn’t make the team.
All his friends did.
Despite staring at the computer screen for several minutes, his name does not magically appear. He is devastated. Your heart breaks for him.
This is a pivotal parenting moment.
How we react to our child being cut from a team will directly impact his ability to cope not only to this disappointment, but the inevitable ones that will follow in his life.
Your reaction can either discourage him from continuing to pursue the sport he loves or foster the resilience needed to handle such rejections.
7 Must-Do’s When Your Child Doesn’t Make the Team
- Temper Your Reactions.
As much as you may want to throttle the coach, reacting angrily will only worsen the situation. It is important that your child understand that you are disappointed for him and not in him. Becoming too upset and blaming the coach, saying it is unfair, or challenging the decision will only add to your child’s grief and send the message that he is not good enough.
- Validate Your Child’s Feelings.
Allow him the space to feel sadness and disappointment. Sympathize with his hurt feelings. Actively listen to him. Hug him. Let him know that it is okay and normal to feel discouraged and depressed. Dismissing the situation by saying it is “ok” or “not a big deal” will tend to invalidate his feelings. Take a moment and remember for yourself what it feels like to be rejected.
- Reassure Your Child that He Still Belongs.
As kids enter adolescence, their desire to belong becomes stronger. Being cut from a team highlights feelings of being different and not belonging. I remind my kids when they feel uncomfortable to remember that their discomfort is likely shared by their peers. All kids suffer disappointment at one time or another. They are not alone in their disappointment and it certainly doesn’t make them abnormal.
- Help Your Child Gain Perspective.
Getting cut from a team is inevitable for all athletes. Many people are surprised to learn that Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school varsity team. Not making a particular team is a speed bump in an athlete’s journey, not a roadblock. An easy road to achieving one’s goals is unlikely AND no goal worth achieving ever comes easy. How an athlete handles adversity is reflected in his character. When my kids suffer a disappointing loss in a game, I always tell them to remember how they are feeling in that moment. Experiencing defeat will only make future successes more meaningful.
- Schedule a Time to Talk Individually with the Coach.
This can be very helpful in most situations if your child is age 12 and up.Children tend to focus on being cut as an ultimate rejection and proof that they aren’t good enough. Often talking with the coach will allow kids to acknowledge and feel good about their strengths and identify skill areas that need more work. Sometimes being cut has to do with the availability of certain positions and other factors that are out of the child’s control, not just their inadequacies. It is important that your child confronts the coach in a non-emotional and non-confrontational way, but rather be open to helpful feedback so some time to heal may be needed first.
As hard as it may be for your child, encourage him to congratulate his teammates as well as thank the coach for allowing him to try out. Parents can model this behavior by congratulating the parents of his peers. Learning to respond graciously to rejection will build a child’s resilience and boost his self-confidence. Talking to the coach and touching base with teammates will provide needed closure.
- Help Your Child Find the Silver Lining and Regain Confidence.
Help him recognize the strengths he possesses on and off the soccer field. Recognize his unique talents whatever they may be. Encourage your child to find strength in the disappointment.Suggest he channel his strong feelings in a positive way by setting new goals for himself.Help him identify what doors opened as a result of him being cut. Will he have more time to pursue other activities? Will this rejection motivate him to work harder to improve weaknesses? Can he pursue his love of soccer in a different league or perhaps shine in a less competitive environment?
Just as our kids learn life lessons through playing soccer, parents learn parenting lessons through our children playing soccer.
This pivotal parenting moment is a golden opportunity.