My 9-year-old son is smart but he is not good at making friends. How can I help him get more social interaction with other children his age?
Let’s start with a question: What are your son's God-given talents? Help him make friends by developing those talents. Then get him involved with other boys who have similar interests. That's how we make friends — by having things in common with others. After being around these kids with similar interests, invite one of them over for a few hours to play. Perhaps the child's mother would like to come along too. If he is not into sports and has tried team play, then help him expand his experiences. Many communities offer reasonably priced summer camps through the YMCA. The Cub Scouts is another organization where your son could learn to interact with other boys his age.
How do I teach my 4-year-old son that he can’t win all the time?
You will need to teach good sportsmanship. At your son’s age, he will find himself in competitive situations. Tell him when he is the winner. The other person could say “Congratulations!” and “Nice job!” and give him a high-five. When the other person is the winner, it is your son’s turn to say “Congratulations!” and give the high-five. This is an example of being a good sport.
Keep the teaching simple. Give him a “kid reason” why being a good sport is important. For instance, others will want to play with him if he is a good sport. They won’t if he is not. If he is on a sports team, the coach will want him to play more often if your son is a good sport. Bad sports sit on the bench more often.
Then have him practice his new skill using pretend situations in which your son can demonstrate how he can be a good sport. If you play a game of cards and win, your son needs to say, “Good game. Congratulations!” If he scores a goal while playing soccer with you in the backyard, tell him, “Nice shot!” Have him do the same when you score a goal. The more you practice, the more likely he will implement his new skill with his peers.
My 7-year-old daughter has asked to play organized baseball for two years. I finally signed her up, but think she will not want to continue once practice begins. Do I let her quit, or will this reinforce that it is OK to give up when things get difficult? I don’t want to send this message. But I also want her to try new things, and am afraid that she won’t if I make her stick with an activity once we sign up.
Your position is understandable, but it might be good to have her stay with her team. She will learn valuable lessons being on a team. How you handle her feelings will determine if she is willing to approach you in the future about trying new activities.
Help her see what she is gaining from the experience. If she starts to break down and fuss about playing, remind her that she is part of a team.
Quitting isn’t good because she agreed to help her team. Teammates help each other learn and be successful. Friendships develop on teams, so focus on that element rather than the sport.
I have signed my 4-year-old twin boys up for soccer, and the season is not going well. One son pushes his teammates and does not listen to his coach. When my other son decides that he has had enough, he sits on the sidelines and goofs off. I think they might be too young for organized sports, but it is too late now. Do you have any suggestions for getting through the rest of the season?
Sports are good for children your sons’ age for many reasons beyond learning the fundamentals. They learn social skills like listening to their coach, following instructions, getting along with teammates, dealing with disappointment and in your case, boredom and staying on-task.
Yes, this situation is frustrating for you and your children. But it is best to finish out the season because it sends the message that we finish what we start. Quitting before we’ve given it a chance is not a good habit.
Soccer may not be their sport, but they can still learn valuable life skills by remaining on the team. Next season, you can try a different sport or activity. For now, encourage your sons to participate and praise them when they do. Practice their newly learned skills with them at home. Once they see how fun it is and how important their parents think it is, hopefully their interest will increase. Talk to their coach for suggestions on additional ways to encourage your sons from the sidelines.