One of the most important things we can teach our kids is to be resilient, to bounce back better and stronger than before, with a bit of self-knowledge or one of those essential life lessons under their belt and the ability to handle disappointment the next time it knocks on the door, as it inevitably does.
My son is a self-identified “sports kid.” He plays baseball and basketball pretty well – he’s not the best kid on the team, but he puts his heart and soul into every game he plays which earns him points both on the field and with the coaches. But, as he gets older and moves up to the senior middle school leagues and coaches start to prep the kids for high school teams, the competition is tougher and skill becomes more important than heart.
Of course, my son wants to be selected for the top travel teams – doesn’t every sports enthusiast? But, on a scale of 1-10, he’s an 8, just about making it, but not quite. This is a tough pill for a 12 year-old kid to swallow. That’s where the disappointment comes in.
A few weeks ago he tried out for our town’s two travel leagues for the second year in a row. Both years he just missed the cut on both. The first year breaking the news was easier, “hey, it’s your first time, keep working at it and maybe next year you’ll make the team.” The second year it’s not that simple.
Letting them down is the easy part, picking them back up…not so much. That’s where resilience comes in – teaching them that failure isn’t the end of the world, it’s the place where you figure out what you’re going to do next. As a parent, your job is to help them to figure out their options and ask them what they’d like to do next. In our case, skip the season or play for the recreational league and just have fun. He opted for the rec league, knowing that he would still have the enjoyment of playing without the pressure of the travel team. Plus, he would continue to build his skills and try again next year…who knows, he might just make it.