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Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Painful rejection

September 5, 2007

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To the editor:

Few things are sadder than the lost, tearful look in a child's eyes when they fail to make a school team or activity they tried out for. They had their heart set on making it and worked through nervousness and fears for tryouts. To ask if I'm good enough, and to be told no, you're not, hurts. You're not as good as some of your friends and other classmates.

Sure, some people say the rejection helps prepare you for life experiences. Well, there are enough rejections and failures as you go through life - more than enough. Let them get through junior high school before telling them they're not good enough. You want to join and sing, sure we want you to sing. You may sing a little off key, but no one will hear as the group will cover you; just sing your heart out, smile, learn and enjoy.

Comforting the child isn't easy and your heart breaks for them. It was hard as a parent and it doesn't get any easier as a grandparent. Saying "I'm proud of you for trying" just doesn't heal the pain. "I'm proud of you for making it" puts a joyous smile and a look of pride on their face. Come on, coaches, instructors, teachers, put a smile on their face and give them confidence to keep trying.

Don Cole,

Lawrence

Comments

erod0723 6 years, 7 months ago

I went to a High School with a no cut policy in regards to sports. I found this to be a great thing for myself and other students. Having a no cut policy allows all students to participate in sports, even if they don't actually get in the game. Having a no cut policy increases participation in sports and allows kids to get some good ole fashioned exercise, which I doubt anyone would doubt has great merits.

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Jillster 6 years, 7 months ago

Baille wrote: "Spoken like a true never-parent."

But I was a child for a number of years, and was frequently on the outside looking in. My parents were good at teaching me how to handle both victories and disappointments with grace. Also to know when to try harder, or maybe to try my hand at something new. There is, after all, always a next time...next semester, next year, maybe even some new activity I hadn't tried before. I was never a cheerleader, or in the pep band, but I had a great time in school plays.

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i_tching 6 years, 7 months ago

All of the above comments seem to be based on the concept that it is talent that gets kids past "the cut." How naive.

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justfornow 6 years, 7 months ago

I can sure tell who was picked last in games as a youth by reading above. Don, I feel your pain as I have two kids myself, but something inside tells me to let youth take its course and not interfere in this one. As my great great great Grandfather, whom was a owned man (slave) used to say "everything gonna be alright" Peter Duncan .

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kansasdaughter 6 years, 7 months ago

All through jr high and into the 10th grade my child tried out for every musical, and always got a part in the chorus. I knew she couldn't sing, but i didn't want to stifle her enthusiasm, so she went to the tryouts with high hopes. The last time, she came home from school after they had posted who got what parts in the production and announced "I Suck, I can't sing!!!" She was a little pee'oed, but after a short pause and an exchange of looks, we both busted out laughing, agreeing that we were glad that it was out in the open. She just graduated with high honors from the California College of the Arts, and attended on a full scholarship, BTW. Keep encouraging your kid no matter what they want to do.

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Baille 6 years, 7 months ago

Spoken like a true never-parent.

There are plenty of opportunities to teach children about dealing with not being the best, losing, and the ever-so-painful "no" and "not right now" in an inclusive approach to teams. Even though everyone plays on rec leagues, it is clear to all involved that not all are equally good. Teams win and teams lose. Some kids get it. Some kids don't. There are lot s of learning opportunities both in how to handle disappointment and how to hadle success gracefully. Both are found aplenty bewteen the ages of 1 and 14 without having to teach it through outright rejection or an over-emphasis on winning..

The same is true in 2A schools where everyone (but apparently the cheerleaders) get to participate in all activities.

That said, we have a lot of kids in Lawrence - at least until the city "leaders" succeed in killing the town through cancerous growth - and there are not enough slots for those who wish to play. Don's heart is in the place and as a parent I agree with much if what he said - but the fact is we don't know what inspired this letter. And all opinions as to Don's fitness or intelligence or even his status as a grandfather is just a bunch of BS.

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Jillster 6 years, 7 months ago

Not sure when this happened in our society, but we have begun to create a culture that celebrates mediocrity. We don't want to make anyone feel bad, and we can't stand to see anyone suffer, so we tell them that the best they can do is okay, even if it falls short of the mark. And granted...no one can give more than their best. But if we lower the standards so that everyone can participate, does the child really have any motivation to work harder to do better? If kids don't have to compete to get in to activities before middle school/junior high, as Don Cole suggests, will they have learned by that age how to work hard to reach a goal instead of skating by with a minimal effort?

A child who hasn't been selected to be on the team, or in the chorus, or in the play, etc. is, in effect, being told that they weren't talented enough, and that others are better at this activity than they were. That doesn't mean that they have to take away the message that they are in some way a bad or deficient person as a whole. And yes, it's difficult for a parent or grandparent to guide the child through a disappointment like this and have them take away any kind of positive message. But ya know...that's a parent or grandparent's job, and it isn't always easy. And character is something that can't wait to be built until the child is 12 or 13. If by that age they can't bear to be told "no," there's a problem.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 7 months ago

My take on this letter to the editor:

This is the grandfather writing this letter. It is drawing nigh to a score and a decade since I was in junior high / highschool, so I may be misinformed and/or have a foggy recollection. I did not think you had to try out, or even face not making "the cut" in the basic band,orchestra, and choir. In sports at the junior high level I was not aware of "cuts". One would have to excel and stand out, to get into the "specialty" choirs and bands, making the "varsity roster" took extra talent in that area. Highschool sports may have been a different animal, I do not recall. Not all kids have "natural" talents, and some endeavors will take extra effort and determination to succeed. I will agree with the writer, this can be a painful experience. But one has to get up, knock the dust off and try again for the brass ring. This may take extra effort, and practice, practice, practice. It may involve finding another area to excel in.

Determination and effort do not go unrewarded, those are traits that serve individuals through every stage of life. Yes, it stings, but do not let it stop you.

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lubyloo 6 years, 7 months ago

Did I take a wrong turn and end up in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood? Everyone is good at something and part of growing up is learning what you are or are not good at -- and learning how to cope with rejection.

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jimincountry 6 years, 7 months ago

Let the "village" raise the children!!!!!!!!!

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kansas778 6 years, 7 months ago

Regardless of whether we want to include everyone or not, sometimes it's just not feasible at a larger school. The 1A and 2A schools that include everyone, don't have the problem of 50 people trying to make one basketball team, where you can only play 5 at a time, and there's only one or two coaches. I know, though, that there are sports teams like football, wrestling, and track and field, and many clubs and groups, that do include everyone that wants to join. I didn't make the basketball team, but I went to the state championships in track and field. That's life, you can't be good at everything, you just have to keep trying till you find what you are good at.

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staff04 6 years, 7 months ago

That's one way to look at it as well, packrat, and reasonable from some perspectives.

I believe the extra-curriculars have been well documented to reduce juvenile crime, boost morale, and produce well-rounded individuals with a greater chance for success as adults.

Very easy to argue your angle as well, that extra-curricular activities are not part of the required government guaranteed free public education.

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cath 6 years, 7 months ago

The school my children attend went from 2A to 3A last year and they have to try out to be cheerleaders. Last year with one in 7th and one in 8th they both tried out. the 7th grader made it. The 8th grader didn't. Thats life. Plus, the older one was happy for her sister, in the same way the younger is happy the older excels at basketball. Kids should be taught how to handle not making the team and made to see it is not the end of the world. Yes, my daughter was upset, but she got over it just fine and learned a lesson in humility.

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packrat 6 years, 7 months ago

I've been seriously considering whether or not any public school money should be spent on any extra-curricular activity in which anyone who wants to participate can. That means no sports.

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Pywacket 6 years, 7 months ago

Staff04~ I LOVE "lastest news." I think the LJW should develop a new section with that designator. The Lastest News section could contain the dribs, drabs, and dregs of the daily offerings. ;-)

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staff04 6 years, 7 months ago

FatTony, I assume you must have the tab for "Most Discussed" highlighted and not the "Lastest News" tab. Computer geeks call this problem you are experiencing PIBKAC.

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Pywacket 6 years, 7 months ago

Stinker & Sourpuss~ On the money! If the parent didn't drape himself in mourning shrouds and carry on this lamentation (and hadn't modeled this sort of reaction for the kid since day 1), the kid would probably have a healthy enough sense of self to turn his attention to something he does better. Find your strengths and cultivate them.

Also, if he is hell-bent on singing, let him start a garage band with his buddies. Doesn't anybody do that any more? In the 70s, half the people I knew were in a band. We'd sit around listening in this guy's garage or that guy's basement, while the aromatic smoke swirled and the cheap wine circulated---- Well, I guess those were different times. But if a kid wants to sing and has a couple of buddies who play a guitar or some drums, they should go for it. Not everybody has the voice for a choir--but his voice may be perfect for edgier stuff.

Point is, the parent should try to help the kid see the positive in things. My response would be different if he were in first grade--I think organizations (sports teams, choirs, or whatever) should be inclusive for the very small fry. But by jr high, he should be able to accept that some activities will be a great fit for him and others will not.

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FatTony 6 years, 7 months ago

Why is this todays news? Is it not a letter to the editor? Put Letters to the Editor where they belong, not the 2nd story under news. The new Journal World website just plain sucks.

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staff04 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm torn on this one--my initial reaction is that if I am a taxpaying parent with a child in public school, then my child should get to participate in any taxpayer supported extra-curricular programs he/she wishes to.

As a former participant in many of those activities, I can also agree that at certain points it may be appropriate to limit participation for a number of reasons.

Either way, it is an interesting discussion, and I'm surprised that none of you toughguys that are normally whining about your property taxes has considered this beyond "kids have to learn how to lose."

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Baille 6 years, 7 months ago

"The kid needs to grow some sack?"

If ever there was a good argument for eugenics, this comment alone would sum it up nicely.

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bmwjhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps the writer should encourage the district to hire more coaches.

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b3 6 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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TheHeartlessBureaucrat 6 years, 7 months ago

I appreciate Mr. Cole's thoughts. I am a parent and I would love to protect my kids from painful experiences. But I assure you, there is a silver lining.

I was never picked for any teams in school except for BAND. I was terribly unpopular and a really late bloomer socially. I'm still a misfit, I'm proud to say.

This weekend I was in a competition and my team lost.

Having had childhood experience with needing to be dignified in the face of losing, my team didn't have a meltdown when the results came in. We accepted our loss and went home. Many folks can't do that. My kids got to see me accept defeat as well.

When there's no joy in attempting something, even if you fail, then you've lost the point. I enjoy practicing and being on my little team.

So...I hope your kids have plenty of success and understand that they're accepted by their family and their community even if they're not the star of the team.

Yrs,

THB

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allateup 6 years, 7 months ago

Yeti, one comes to mind real quick.....John Riggins from Centralia

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Baille 6 years, 7 months ago

For those who have forgotten, Life at 11 is much different than Life at 23 - or should be. Around here it is sometimes hard to tell.

In the small towns (1A-2A) around Lawrence, everyone makes the team even if they don't all play in the games. Everyone can sing in choir even if they don't get the solo or selected for the ensembles. Everyone can play in band. Everyone can be a part of something larger.

Maybe that is not possible in Lawrence. But my kids play rec soccer because it is more important that they learn to play on team at 9 than learn how to deal with being kicked out of something they really care about. It is more important that they learn how to appreciate and accept the less skilled and the less athletic as part of their group then learn how to win at any cost. Competition is healthy and children need to learn how to accept natural consequences and adverse situations, but their are other values to learn through team sports as well. These values tend to get short shrift in competitive youth sports.

On a related note, the parents I see at youth sporting events screaming at their single-digit aged kids like the fate of the world hung on their athletic performance that day make me sick. I am convinced that this is why Lawrence tried to ban concealed carry at youth sporting fields - not because the crazy parents might be carrying but to protect them from the vast majority of parents who find their behavior disgusting.

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Bud Stagg 6 years, 7 months ago

You can learn just as much from a failure as you can from a success. There are too many poor losers out there. We all have successes and failures everyday, learning to deal with both is one of life's lessons and it should be learned early.

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costello 6 years, 7 months ago

While I agree that all kids should have a chance to enjoy athletic and artistic activities, there's no reason that the best athletes and artists shouldn't have a forum to hone their skills and have them celebrated by their family, friends, community, etc. [Personally I was a good student, but I have no athletic or creative talents. I do wish my parents had encouraged me to try harder in those areas, but that shouldn't mean the choir or the basketball team should have suffered to have me on the team.]

Yesterday my 15-year-old son saw one of those "my child is an honor student" bumper stickers and commented bitterly that people shouldn't put those stickers on their cars and make other kids feel bad.

I was astonished! I asked him if he thought anyone with talent should hide it in order to avoid making the rest of us feel less important.

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jonas 6 years, 7 months ago

Competition can be both healthy and unhealthy. An unqualified acceptance of everything or everyone at anytime is pretty much always unhealthy.

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TheYetiSpeaks 6 years, 7 months ago

"I agree with dubya45 it makes children work harder and practice more."

Yes, because no great players or singers came out of small schools where everyone that wanted to participate did. What a bunch of hogwash.

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cowboy 6 years, 7 months ago

A solid kid has to learn how to lose and win gracefully. we often times learn much more from our failures than our victories. encourage your kids to keep working at it.

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sourpuss 6 years, 7 months ago

At a certain point, you have to learn that you aren't good at everything. And honestly, shouldn't you work on things you have some talent for than trying to get your rusty, off-pitch pipes up to par? Take up drawing or science or dance, or whatever. You can't be fabulous at everything you do, so go find something else.

Sounds like this child's failure was harder on the parent than the child.

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allateup 6 years, 7 months ago

Don, not all schools have "cuts". There is still at least one school district that borders the Lawrence district that does still let all students play/sing/act.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 7 months ago

Society is based on equal opportunities, not equal outcomes. Therefore, I reject Nell and Merrill's assertations.

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imastinker 6 years, 7 months ago

This is a good time to teach the lesson about why some people have different talents. If the child wants on the team, he/she may have to work harder than the other kids to make it. However, the child may be better in the classroom/band/art or any other activities.

All people have different talents

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

Nell has got it right.

A worthless letter....hardly.

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i_tching 6 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps when people are rejected by life and die they will be condemned to hell where they can spend eternity in the flesh-roasting flames of self-improvement. Death and unending punishment are mercifully good for you, you see.

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nell 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't know...lessons learned in the early years about being inclusive and accepting rather than competitive and exclusive might bring long-term benefits to society. Dub, are you saying that thrills are for the few? Righty, is your only source of motivation the desire to be better than someone else? Ugh.

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Rightytighty 6 years, 7 months ago

I agree with dubya45 it makes children work harder and practice more. Without this there would be no drive to try hard at what you do. This article is ridiculous!

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Bradley Menze 6 years, 7 months ago

What's the thrill of making the team if tnere are no cuts?

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Ragingbear 6 years, 7 months ago

Would you like us to come out and wrap your kid in bubble wrap for you? Or do you want to do it yourself so that they don't have contact with the real world at all?

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