At recess for touch football my son says he is picked last, even over a tiny girl. 6th grade.
My son says at recess they play touch football and he is picked last, even over a tiny girl. I didn't think 6th grade could be so cruel. He is 5 foot 3. Taller than some of the other boys also. It is really doing a number for his self esteem... Any ideas on this situation and how to help bring up his self esteem. Also there are no kids his age around are home for him to play with... Recess is his only time to play with kids his own age. I play outside football and basketball so does his father. It's not the same. Please let me know what advice you can give.
I'm so sorry that your son is going through this, it must be so tough for him and for you!
To begin, since your son's self-esteem is a bit shaky right now, you need to remind him that this is only one area of his life and help him name all the other things that he enjoys and that he is good at.
Next, it's important for you to figure out whether this is only happening during football, or if he is feeling left out at other times during school. If it is just football, then he may just need some help getting a bit better at the game--a couple of 'tutoring' sessions with a supportive high schooler could do the trick. Alternatively, you could help him figure out what else is going on at recess that he might join.
If he is feeling left out at other times as well, you will want to figure out the reason. Perhaps he is having a hard time interacting w/ other kids. Chatting with his teacher will help you understand better how well he gets along with others and what type of social reputation he has. Try to be open-minded, rather than defensive. Remember, you can only help him if you know what is going on--even if what you hear doesn't make you happy.
Last, it is important to find times for him to play with other kids outside of school. Ask him who he likes and then call their parents to set up a playdate on the weekend. If he forms a couple of closer friendships, he won't feel that he is left out as much.
Good Wishes and Great Parenting,
Dr Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert www.drsusanbartell.com
NEW book “The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask”
I'm sorry you're going through this. As a mom I think there's nothing more heartbreaking than seeing your child in pain. I've always hated the "picking teams" way of doing things since it always leaves at least a handful of kids feeling "unwanted" - especially the very last one picked.
I would do a few things. First I would have a really honest conversation with your son. Don't try to "sugar coat" what's happening. Acknowledge that being the last to be picked really stinks and let him know that you understand that he's really hurting. You can then remind him that sports are just one part of life and it's just unfortunate that it's the one area where kids "pick teams". Talk about the other parts of his life that he's really good at. You can even joke about "if they had to pick teams for [science /Reading /Math /Bike Riding] I bet you'd get picked first every time!" Help him see that he has options in the situation. First, if he keeps playing and practicing, he's very likely to get better and will probably start getting picked sooner. So if he's willing to tough out getting picked last for a little longer, it may pay off. Second, he could find something else to do at recess. It's doubtful that ALL the kids are playing the pick up game of football. Help him practice inviting some other kids to play a different game (that he likes and feels good at). Most of all, let him know that what he's going through is temporary. Remind him that when he's just a little bit older, there's no more "picking teams" - keep him feeling hopeful about the future if he feels like his present situation is hopeless.
Once you've armed your son to help himself, there are a couple of things you can do to help him. First, I'd talk to his teacher and/or principal about the situation. It's possible that they have a "no picking teams rule" (many schools do) and they need to know that the kids aren't following that rule and the playground staff needs to start enforcing the rule. (The alternative is just to count off teams "1..2...1...2"). They may also be able to tell you about alternative activities that are available to your son so you can share those with him. They may even be able / willing to talk to the class about the importance of including everyone and making kids feel welcome and accepted at recess.
Finally, if your schedule allows, you could ask the principal if you could volunteer for recess duty a day or two a week. Many schools are very short staffed at recess and have inadequate supervision on the playground. If you were able to spend some time on the playground, you'd get a better understanding of exactly what happens there so that you could help your son find a better situation.
I hope this helps - and I hope things get better soon!
Choosing "captains" to choose their team players has always been a huge waste of time and it does seem to isolate children or at least make them feel isolated or unwanted (real bummer, doesn't do much for making them feel like playing their best). Next, the "captains" waste an easy 5 to 10 minutes of recess time while they are choosing and will deliberately fool around over some players, I've even seen arguments, "you take 'em---no, you take 'em" just nonsense.
A practical approach would be for the teacher to choose the teams before recess. For example: blue team, red team and pick the players to represent each team color (this should be done at the start of the season) and from there allow the competitive playoffs to begin, maybe even leading up to a finale at the end of the year. Maybe you could suggest something like this to the teacher, they may appreciate the positive feedback that you can offer, due to it sounds to me that this teacher must be inexperienced or he/she would have already realized that this "choosing player" method is not working. More experienced teachers that I have been fortunate to know, would handle this much differently and remove the "choosing" and would not waste the recess time. More experienced teachers have learned tactics on how to remove drama from the day, which in turn the students are more focused on their studies and learning instead of worrying about something silly such as P.E.
Meanwhile, just let your son know, IT'S NOT HIM! The teacher has given another child the power to choose his/her team, and that child is only going along with others, choosing their friends first or possibly choosing their non-friends first for their own personal reasons and it has nothing to do with your son or his performance as a player. Let him know, to hold his head up, be proud and not stress the little petty stuff like this whole 6th grade P.E. thing, that in the very near future, this will not matter at all and usually a child such as himself, will be much more mature and capable of dealing in the real world therefore, he will be much more successful and the "others" will be the ones left behind LAST.
Volunteering is a fun way to be involved with your kids and especially at P.E., you can "root" him along, cheering and express how good he did in front of others, possibly boosting his ego a bit-however, 6th grade, he may feel a little too mature for his Mom to show up for play time. I would talk to him about it first to see what he prefers.
Hope this helps, I wish you & your son all the best!!
This archaic and cruel schoolyard draft really should be banished from all the educational settings in which it still—against all common sense—survives. That being said, I would try to take advantage of the unfortunate experience your son is having during recess, and use it as valuable information regarding his social adjustment and athletic interests, as well as the social climate in which he spends hours every day.
I'd recommend speaking to your son's teacher to find out how the school can help kids substitute other means for choosing teams than the old "You pick, then I pick" method. It can be part of a theme about building "belonging" and inclusion among peers.
I'd also use the experience as an opportunity to ask your son what he thinks is the reason he gets picked last, even over a tiny girl. He might volunteer information that sheds light on this as being not at all about athletic ability, but about popularity; is there some reason that he would not be popular with his peers, even if he was a pretty athletic kid? If so, can you help him understand the difference between popularity and self-worth, and the difference between being someone who is thought valuable by peers and who is, pure and simple, valuable as a human being whether popular or not. Preteens are pretty sharp when it comes to picking up on the social messages transmitted through the behavior of their peers; the trick is in getting them to share their thoughts or worries with us so that we can help them to either change the situation, or digest it in a way that leaves them standing tall.
Here's another possibility: Could your son not be interested in football at all, and just be pretending to be interested, because he thinks that all boys are supposed to like it, and are expected to play it? Could he be a boy who happens not to like rough contact sports, and it is his disinterest in playing -- more than a lapse in physical skill -- that the other kids are picking up and responding to? This could be the perfect opportunity to talk to him about how the world may think that all boys love sports - but that sometimes the world is wrong.
None of these are reasons for a child ever to feel left out of his or her peer group, or experience the disillusionment or embarrassment of being chosen last. As parents and teachers, we can help by opening up conversations about these things that kids are sometimes left to process and understand by themselves without the benefit of support or perspective. Helping kids realize that there are ways of looking at things other than the ways their peers do can be a resource they hold onto until old enough to see it for themselves.
Janet Sasson Edgette, Psy.D.
Author, The Last Boys Picked: Helping Boys Who Don't Like Sports Survive Bullies and Boyhood