Competitive Teens, What to do?
Fadiera recently seems to be invested in her soccer practice. She goes to her team practice three nights a week and will spend hours in the backyard kicking around the ball. At first, I was enthusiastic and proud of her commitment to exercise, but I noticed that it has some adverse effects in other areas.
I have noticed that she has been canceling plans with her friends that do not relate to soccer, she has not been completing her homework, and she has been exhausted. I have tried to address these concerns with her, but she shrugs me off and tells me she is okay.
Last week I picked her up from soccer practice, and she got into my car angrier than I have seen her in a long time. I was hesitant to ask her about it at first because she seemed so angry. Eventually, I decided that the awkward tension was enough, and I asked her what was wrong.
I would never have expected the emotions that she let out. It was like someone had broken the floodgates opened. There were tears, angry fists, and lots of words that were difficult to understand through the sobbing. This is how we drove home. Once inside, I gave Fadiera some space. She showered and then hid in her bedroom.
Once it was quiet, I brought her a peace offering, her favorite snack, and asked her if she wanted to talk about what happened. Now that she had calmed down, she was much easier to understand. She explained that she had been practicing for so many hours because she competed with her teammates. She explained that they had created an idea to determine who the best soccer player was and that that person would win. They would never have to carry their equipment, get free dinner during team nights out, and the name of Queen Soccer.
I asked her if this had been why she had been doing nothing but practicing, and she confirmed that this was true. I asked her about what had happened today that had her so upset. She shared that she had missed a goal at practice and ruined her chances of winning.
I immediately went in for a hug. I told her that I was sorry she was going through this. We sat there for a while. She discussed her feelings of disappointment, and I reminded her about all of her successes.
As a parent, I never want my daughter to experience disappointment in herself, but I also know that it is part of life. It is natural for kids to compete and influence each other’s feelings and behavior. I even now realize that all of the practice was related to wanting to succeed and a bit of peer pressure. Once some time has passed, and my daughter feels less defeated, I will talk to her about her behavior related to this competition and ways to make it more healthy and find a balance.
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