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Tired of forcing your reluctant child to attend sports practice?

Here's what to do instead ...

by Karen Alonge  |  1788 views  |  0 comments  |        Rate this now! 

It's a screaming match every time I ask my 8-year-old son to get ready for wrestling practice. His dad is passionate about wrestling, and wants our boys to wrestle. But getting him to go to practice is driving me crazy. I told him he needs to go to practice to stay active, but he doesn't have to compete in tournaments. That was OK for a few weeks, but now he doesn't even want to do that. I don't know if this is a power struggle, if he truly hates it, if I should give in or be persistent. All I know is I am so tired of fighting him before every practice. Any advice is very welcome.

This is a terrific question, and I know many other parents will relate to your dilemma. Thanks for submitting it.

It's only natural, and even a very good sign, that you feel confused about what to do right now. There's still some information that needs to be gathered. Good for you for not jumping to premature conclusions!

You mentioned that his dad is passionate about wrestling. Is your son? If he's not, then there are no parenting tricks or techniques that can overcome his natural and appropriate resistance to spending his leisure time doing something he doesn't enjoy.

You might start by asking your son about his experience. "Son, it seems you really don't want to go to practice lately, and I hate arguing with you so much. What's up?"

Listen to his response quietly and attentively, without interrupting or trying to convince him to see it your way. He may not give you a complete answer right away. If that's the case, you can say, "That's okay son. Just think it over for a while, and if there's anything you want to tell me later, I'd like to hear it. I'm sure we can figure this out together."

Sometimes kids can't identify the source of their reluctance out of the blue, but can respond yes or no to a checklist that you present. If that's the case, just take some guesses, and his acceptance or denial of your probes might prime his pump a little bit.

When he finally does tell you what's up, repeat it to him in your own words to make sure you've understood it accurately. Then let him know that you want to share where you are coming from.

You might start by telling him that you know what it's like to want to quit something when the going gets tough, because you have felt that way, too. And that sometimes you were glad you stuck with whatever it was, because you ended up really liking it once you figured out how to solve the problem you were having. And other times, you were just really happy to quit and do something else instead. Let him know that's why you have been pushing him to keep attending practice; because you want him to stick with it long enough to see if he loves it or not.

About the Author

Karen is a parenting consultant who works with parents by phone and email. Visit or for more information.

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