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What can we do to help our 7-year-old understand that perfection is not possible?
Lesley Rochester Hills
Type A’s are not always easy to raise, are they? But then it’s not easy to have a Type A parent, either. You’ve got to be very honest and insightful and ask yourselves whether he is putting too much pressure on himself or you’re putting too much pressure on him. Chances are it is a bit of both. Parental “sports rage” is becoming a national phenomenon, with not a few cases of outright tragedy occurring as a result within the last few years. Make certain that you and his dad are not saying or doing anything to cause him to break down emotionally whenever he doesn’t meet either his or your expectations.

During the time it takes him to adjust his expectation to the reality of his abilities, I would take him off his current teams. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a legitimate reason for your actions. Undoubtedly some of the pressure he is putting on himself comes from a desire to achieve at a level equal to or better than his teammates, as well as his need to meet his own high expectations. There are plenty of sports activities (skating, biking, swimming, for example) in which he won’t have the added pressure of trying to be better than other children his age. He will probably still compete with his own standards, but at least he will not experience the additional pressure of playing with friends whose accomplishments threaten him.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education