The word "no"—much less said so emphatically—was not what you were expecting when you took home the registration forms for the next session of soccer. However, that's just what you got, followed by an indiscernible tirade and stream of tears.
Whether your kid is new to sports or has been participating for years, it can be a bit disheartening when he or she tells you that they don't want to play with an organized sports team.
Before you get into an argument or force your child onto the field, try this game plan.
Don't Show Your Cards1 of 7
Your child might be saying no to elicit a particular response from you. Instead of getting angry or upset or responding to the trigger, take a minute—or five—before you say anything.
Let them know you hear them, but would like to revisit the topic when you can give it your full attention—and tell them when that will be. Your child will know that their feelings are important and the topic is worth making time for.
Don't Ask Yes or No Questions2 of 7
Many coaches—sports, health or otherwise—use a technique called motivational interviewing to get to the heart of a person's issues. One of the key strategies is to avoid yes or no questions and ask someone why or how he does something. Ask what your child's concerns are about the program, what they've heard about the players and coaches and what they think the experience will be like.
Offer Solutions3 of 7
After chatting with your child, you might have discovered that they had a conflict with a teammate or they're nervous because they won't know anyone. Maybe you can set up a meeting with the coach so they can get an idea of how practices will be run. Or maybe you can chat with another parent and get a friend to join in, too. It's possible your kid just needs a little bit of assurance.
If there's a conflict that is less easily resolved, a different time slot or league could be an option.
Offer Alternatives4 of 7
Sometimes a child just gets bored or something else piques their interest. And whether we want to admit it or not, organized sports aren't for every child. Talk to your child about the importance of staying active and suggest other ways they can do that. Maybe it's dance or swimming. Maybe it's gymnastics or karate.
Don't forget that activity doesn't have to come with a registration form. Perhaps your child can join you for leisurely jogs or bike rides when they would normally have practice, or earn extra money by walking the dog.
Let Them Set the Terms5 of 7
No matter how much we want our children to be involved in something, we have to remember they are the ones doing the work. Allow them some autonomy and ask them how they would like to be active. For some children, it's important that the parents stay during practice for support and assurance. Other youth might want some independence and prefer that you drop them off or be out of sight.
Take a Break6 of 7
Children are under more pressure than ever. Homework takes hours upon hours, extracurricular activities are before and after school and friends want to hang out. It can be a lot to put on a kid—and that's without the sports. When you are finished discussing the options, ask whether your active child just needs some down time. Negotiate the break with a promise that they will do something next season or try something new over the summer.