27 Jun
There’s No Crying in Baseball. But a lot of Tantrums

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My ten year old son plays baseball on a travel team. My issue is not that I’ll be spending every single weekend at the ball field this summer, rather it’s that my son has very high expectations of himself and his performance on the field.

He gets upset when he gets out or misses a play or struggles on the mound. His reaction usually involves tears and occasionally tossing his helmet or glove when he comes back to the dugout. Despite our assurances that he’s doing well (which he is), he holds himself to an unreasonable standard – get a hit each at bat, make every fielding play, get all batters out without allowing a hit/run. We repeatedly emphasize how infrequently professional players actually get on base or get every batter out and how tough it is, but it doesn’t seem to register.

In general, he’s a sensitive kid (which most of the time I love), but I fear his reactions on the field are a bit too dramatic for the ballpark. I’m glad he cares about the game but I want him to have fun playing baseball. And secondly, I don’t want anyone to make fun of him for getting that upset. To be fair, there are other players on the team who get emotional as well but I feel my son get more upset more often.

Any suggestions for resetting his expectations or toning down the drama on the field? Or is this just par for the age?

Signed,
Not a Perfect Game

____________________________________

Dear Imperfect Game,

As someone who has served what seems like a few life sentences on the bleachers myself watching many, many (many) baseball games, I can tell you that at this age, boys have a variety of reactions when things don’t go well on the field. Or at bat.  Anything goes- from shrugging, to sulking, to throwing the bat and/or helmet, crouching on the field, and sometimes even the grandaddy of no-nos, arguing with the umpire.  Usually getting ejected from a game cures kids of some of this behavior. And by “this age” I mean from 5 until 75. I hear that by 76, some guys mellow out.

But what we’re dealing with here is the fact that your son cares about the game. He doesn’t want to let himself or his team down. He wants to win. All of these are great things.  Except he needs to realize that baseball is not about him anymore than it’s about any individual players on the team. It’s a team sport. His pitch doesn’t have to be perfect, his fielders are there to field.  No matter how many millions are thrown at an MLB power hitter, no one gets on base every time.

Your son will understand this eventually, although accepting it is another story. Since you already had the conversation with him, consider speaking to the coach about on-field and in-dugout demeanor. Sometimes hearing what kind of behavior is expected of him by the coach can be very helpful in guiding his behavior.

Can he have a few pick up games with his friends? It’s easy to forget the toll that competition has on our kids and it’s a great reminder to be able to just play and have fun with the game.

I would not worry about other kids making fun of him for getting upset. If there’s one thing I learned from all the bench-sitting is that 1o year olds take baseball very seriously. So the chance that they’d accuse a teammate of over-reaction is slim, since they’re all moments away from tears and helmet flinging themselves.  As are the MLB players.

Best of luck,

Marinka, TMH

 

8 Responses to “There’s No Crying in Baseball. But a lot of Tantrums”

06.27.12#1

Comment by Plano Mom.

Ah yes, preteen male drama. Tell him that you understand his distress, but when the message is so dramatic it prevents you from helping him. You have to focus too much on his drama, and you can’t brainstorm other ideas like baseball camp in the off season or an extra practice session with Dad. Repeat for many years, and enjoy the times when he shakes it off or uses mere words to express his disappointment.

06.27.12#2

Comment by Two Hands.

[…] I’m at The Mouthy Housewives today, giving a fellow baseball mom some advice. Check it out. […]

06.27.12#3

Comment by Bean.

Drama is right. This is the 10 year old boy version of a temper tantrum. When my 7 year old girl (also a bit of a perfectionist) pulls them, I speak with her quietly about how it’s natural to be disappointed, but throwing a fit is unacceptable, come up with other options, and that if they continue, we will stop doing whatever is causing the fits until she can control herself.

I can still tell you who the drama boys were on my HS basketball team. Some of them are still throwing fit as 40-something men.

Danielle Reply:

I’m in agreement with you. If he can’t control himself he doesn’t get to do what upsets him. Even if that means no baseball.

06.27.12#4

Comment by OC 'Burbs.

My 7 year old is like this too … everything is a competition and he has to be the best (winning!) or else he puts on a major stinkface. It’s embarrassing sometimes … sometimes it feels like everyone else’s kid is saying “The important thing is I tried…” while my kid is stomping his foot because he didn’t score the goal, or was tagged out at first plate. It drives us a little batty, to be honest. We’ve made it clear that the tantrums are unacceptable, and that he has to control his behavior. We also are constantly reminding him that winning isn’t everything, but it is still a constant battle.

06.27.12#5

Comment by Misty.

My daughter had major issues with tantrums during last years softball season (see was 7). We had several conversations explaining that nobody “always” makes the play or gets a great hit, that by throwing a tantrum she was letting her team down and showing poor sportsmanship. Nothing really worked, she continued to throw a tantrum if she struck out or didn’t make a play each inning. This season we had a talk with the coach and agreed that if the behavior continued she would be benched. We then explained to our daughter the consequences of her behavior…that she would be benched for tantrums, not because she made a mistake on the field or struck out, but because she was letting her team down when she behaved that way. It worked wonders. She still struck out sometimes, she still missed plays but she left the field with her head held high and cheered on her teammates. And in the process became a much better player this season.

07.05.12#6

Comment by Byron.

Thanks for all of the advice on this issue. My son is only 4 but already holding himself to MLB expectations. I think the good thoughts were to explain being upset is normal. Give yourself 2 seconds to be upset and 2 seconds to think about how to do it better. Then get back together so you can continue to help out the team. I’ll be pushing this strategy over the coming years.

07.29.12#7

Comment by Leslie.

I know this comment is a little late in the game (so to speak), but check out the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. Basically, what kids need is the resilience to learn from the inevitable failures and disappointments; and baseball is full of ’em. Have a read – it should make a big difference.

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