Q&A: My Preteen Athlete Is Overly Aggressive
Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman on how parents can address their child's unsportsmanlike behavior.
Q. I don't know what to do. My 11-year-old is very athletic, very competitive, and has been taking cheap shots at other kids. For instance, in one game he got frustrated and elbowed the first baseman. (The umpire benched him.) He's losing friends over this.
A. First, be grateful he was quickly penalized. Second, I would say to him, "You are one of the best on the team. But athletes who express anger like you did aren't helping the team. People don't trust them on the field, and they're not fun to be around. So you can continue to act like this and take the consequences or you can demonstrate real power by figuring out a different way to handle being upset."
Then brainstorm with him about possible situations that could come up during a game and role-play responses. Finally, tell him that a good way to exercise his new strength and gain respect is to apologize to his team.
Originally published in the April 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.