Should I push my son into sports? My wife and I took our 4 year-old son to play soccer as part of a league for 4 and 5 year-olds that is, according to their literature, "just for fun. don't expect the kids to learn much about the game." I was "assistant-coaching" but had to run off the field for a couple of minutes. When I got back our son was sitting with my wife on the sidelines. I asked what was wrong and my wife, visibly unhappy said that our son decided he didn't want to play any more. I ask our son and he said he "hated" soccer and didn't want to play anymore. I said, "come on, lets get back out there...etc." But he didn't want to play anymore but he wanted to go play on the adjacent playground (where several other kids who apparently decided soccer wasn't for them were playing). I took him to play on the swings and slides for a few minutes. When we returned to the game, he still didn't want to play and my wife was very upset. I asked what was wrong and she said, "you're not being a good father! You should be out there pushing him to get back into the game. You're letting him be in control! He's going to turn out to be a pansy!" I thought you could do more damage to a kid by pushing them to do something they didn't want to than to let them be happy. I obviously don't want my son to be a "pansy" (although I didn't realize that not playing soccer was the defining moment in one's life that make a child a pansy) and I want to do the best I can for our son - so what's the right way to proceed? Any insights would be appreciated.
That is a turn around - usually it is the dad doing the pushing. I think there is a middle ground here. When a young child is upset, forcing them back into the upsetting activity is not a good idea, but nor would I reward the behavior with a trip to the monkeybars.
With my kids, if they wanted to play a sport or join an activity, I made it clear to them, even at 4, that they were making a commitment. This is especially important in team sports, where a drop out leaves the team short. So, if they do not want to play, that is fine, but they stay on the sidelines and watch. They go to every practice, etc. Next season, they can decide if they want to return.
Help to have a happy family.
Actually, if your son isn't into sports, forcing him to participate might make him even hate it more. Rather than make it sound like a task for him, package it into something fun. Get some of his friends over and casually start with just kicking a ball around for example.
I'm with you on the not pushing your son to play if he doesn't want to. My parents pushed me to be physically active, and I would find something I liked for a while, then I would just suddenly like it, no reason, just not interested anymore. If they made me stay in it my position would go from "not interested" to "disliking", so if you let him out now, he may decide later to go back. As for your wife's reaction, I can only offer my aunt as an example. She was a soccer mom to 3 boys (two are already in college). She is this perfectly sweet lady that anybody would kill to be like, but I've seen her a couple of times on the sidelines of her sons' games and she turns into this snarling beast that would make those same "anybody"s turn and run. It certainly shocked the hell out of me! I don't know anything about your wife, but maybe she got caught up in the heat of the moment.
Dang. I say don't push the kid to do anything he doesn't want to do. There are times when the principles will come into play, like when he tries out for a sport and makes a team, that's a commitment to a team and he needs to stick that out....that will come when he's older. At 4 or 5 you can't expect them to get that stuff. We took our 3 yr old to a Saturday soccer deal and he hated it. There wasn't enough ball kicking chaos for him. Too much structure. It's Saturday and he wants to play what he wants to play.
I think you are right on with letting him go play. Especially after you attempted to get him to go back out.
Forcing a child to have the fun YOU want them to have.....doesn't make much sense. Provide them with an abundance of opportunities to find the things they enjoy...that's a parent's responsibility. Some of it will stick, some of it won't.
Hope that helps.
I was one of those kids who was 'forced' into playing sports as a child. I hated baseball and basically any sport. Now that I'm an adult, I refuse to force my son (only 18 months old right now) into pursuing sports. I'll let the little guy dictate those kind of activities for himself later.
There are a lot of good posts in response to this question. As a parent of four and parent coach/psychologist (ABD2010). It is important for you as a parent to remember that exposing children to new ideas, activities is about the child learning and exploring his or her own skills and interests and not the needs or wishes of the parent or what the parent wants for the child.
Encouragement try new things and understand commitment and responsibility when they join a group is important but it is also very important to talk with your child and truly understand your child's thoughts and feelings. There is not one good answer regarding how to respond or react to child not wanting to do something. There are many factors to be considered and every child is unique. Their thoughts and experiences are unique also. (physical issues, emotional issues, social issues, maturity levels, unpleasant experiences, etc...) better yet is the process for resolving the issue at hand...this is what will determine your child's future receptiveness and responsiveness to new experiences and this is the real teaching opportunity.
My oldest is 3 so we aren't there quite yet. My husband and I have decided that we want him involved in something starting at a young age. If he can't or won't choose an activity then we will choose something for him. We plan to change it up each season until he finds something he enjoys. It's a good opportunity to talk to your child about commitment and the benefits of physical activity. Luckily, our son already likes hockey so we're gonna start out by getting him in ice skating lessons and take it from there. Anyway, for your situation I would still take him to practices and games but not force him. Maybe he'll see the other children having fun and want to join in. I wouldn't let him quit, especially something you've had to pay for.
Chrissy, Married to Josh
Mommy to Ian born 12/11/06 and
Declan born 01/23/09
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
i think they should put him into sports when he's young and when he gets older let him decide if he wants to still play the sports or choose to do something else. you never know if you push your child to do something when they are young and when they get older they may even be able to make friends easier and they will have more confidence in themselves cause they will know they will be able to do something if they set their mind to it
Making your son play a sport is silly. Part of acquiring tastes in life is trying something and deciding if you like it. If he doesn't like soccer, he may like baseball or painting or karate. I would just suggest you guys encourage your kids to play these sports with friends or neighborhood kids to decide if they like it (before committing to a team). I am sure your wife has tried a sport and decided she didn't like it. Perhaps, she needs to be forced to continue or become a pansy!
Mommy to Riley Logan 6/29/08 and Sierra Eloise 5/7/10