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Team sports can be extremely stressful, especially for children and teens. There is a need to succeed, a need to be competitive and a desire to win — sometimes at all costs.
Children unable to handle the stress and pressure will often start acting out at home, on the field or at school. Parents should watch for these warning signs, as they are an indication that it may be time to pull the child out of the team sport — at least for a little while.
Making Constant Excuses to Miss Practice or Games
Sometimes your child will ask to miss a practice or game because he or she is not feeling well or is tired. However, if your child is constantly coming up with excuses to miss practices, team events or even games, it may be time to look deeper into what is going on.
If your child is making excuses to miss practices/games, consider sitting down to discuss why. You may discover that he or she really doesn’t enjoy their team sport and it may be time to move onto something different.
Feeling Overly Stressed or Burned Out from Sports Activities
Your child will have limits, just like you do. Unfortunately, no one may know what those limits are, which is why you need to pay attention for signs that your child is being pushed too far.
Children who appear overly stressed out or experience signs of burnout may need to take a step back from their current sports activities.
Some signs of stress or burnout in children include:
- Sudden mood changes
- Loss of appetite
- Extremely fixated on sports activities to the point of obsession
- Developing nervous habits
- Unable to sleep at night
When your children start to exhibit these signs, it is best to sit them down and talk to them about what is going on in their lives. It may not be the sports activity that is stressing them out, but you won’t know until you talk to your children.
Suddenly Lashing Out at Fellow Teammates or Coaches
Occasional squabbles or arguments will occur when playing a sport, but if your child appears to be lashing out at teammates, coaches or even other parents, it may be time to take a step back from sports. This is a classic sign that your child may not be enjoying the sport.
Some actions to look out for include:
- Yelling at other teammates when they make mistakes
- Talking back to the coach
- Screaming at other parents/coaching staff for no reason at all
- Insulting other players for how they play
These actions can be signs of aggression. Children who do not enjoy a sport or who feel stressed over having to play the sport may be acting like this as a way to let out their anger or frustration.
Poor Performance in School
Balancing school and sports can be extremely difficult. Some children can do it, some cannot. If you start to notice that your child’s grades seem to be slipping, or he or she is acting out in class, it may be time to reevaluate playing a sport.
Parents may need to pull their child out of a sport and help their child refocus his or her time and efforts on schoolwork. Once school is brought back as a main focus, sports activities may be reintroduced, but only if the child wants to continue to play.
No one knows your child better than you. It is important to pay attention to how your children behave and what they are doing and saying, especially if they are playing sports. They will tell you, nonverbally and verbally, if it is time to remove them from a team sport and take a step back for a little while.
Brandon Capaletti is the Vice President of Cisco Athletic, a Maryland-based athletic apparel manufacturer that designs, produces and distributes custom uniforms for 18 different sports including basketball, soccer, and baseball.