22 answers

Being Called "Dumb" by Your Team Mates

I signed up my soon to be 7 y/o son into Little League. He's never played and my husband never pushed him. Because of his age he was placed in coach pitch instead of t ball. It's been about a month and he's had an okay time. Being one of the weaker players, he's in outfield and sees very little action.
At one of his games, I was right by the dug out and he was up to bat. I overheard some of his team mates talking about him and asking one another if they thought he was dumb. One even went so far as to say, " you can just tell him he's dumb and he won't know". At least there was one kid who said that it's not nice to call someone dumb. They complained that he hits and throws things at them and so on. What I've witnessed is that they will throw their gloves at each other and their hats and will throw the ball at each other. My son loves to be around other kids and will do what they do with gusto. Not realizing if he's too rough.
My husband was at the game too but did not hear this. I know he would be very upset and pull him out of the league. I spoke with the coach. He wanted names, etc. One of the assistant coaches said, "boys will be boys". Really? That makes it right?
Not sure what to do. My son says he enjoys the game but I don't think he really does. He doesn't understand the game but he tries hard. Getting him to practice and games is filled with "Oh man, not again!". Should I just pull him from the league and call it a day?
I would appreciate your thoughts and recommendations.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your comments and insight. Your words helped calm the mother bear in me and kept the juvenile in me in check. There is a big back story but the short end is that my DS has a speech and language delay. He doesn't speak as clear as kids his age and his comprehension is slightly delayed too. I've made it a point to remind him of appropriate behavior just before any practice, game, school. The coach was very happy to see my DS at practice and glad we didn't quit. I think my DS actually looks forward to practice and games now. My husband doesn't have a 9-5 job. That can be difficult to practice. I tried and I am worse than my son. Couple time I almost hit a car, a window and a passer by. I had signed my son up for little league without asking him because he was always ambivalent about sports. Once he got into it, he actually likes it.

Featured Answers

you have 2 very important things to teach here. First if you think he is being picked on you need to teach him to stick up for himself. Whether he is challenging somone or letting an adult know. If you just pull him out HE WILL NOT LEARN. He will only learn to run and hide. Walking away is good for a fight, but not for being picked on IT WILL GET WORSE.
Also he has made a committment. When you sign up for a TEAM you basically agree to see it until the end. At least of the season. At that point you can allow him to not sign up again if he chooses.
If you think he likes it but maybe does not feel as skilled as the other players (some of whom have 3 years experience plus on him) get him some lessons or extra practice. Kids know when they are "not as good," he may like the social aspect of being with a team but may feel ashamed to have less skills. Ask him if he wants more training. If so it will build his confidence.

2 moms found this helpful

Just my opinion, but team sports for little kids really suck. More often than not most of the team stands around waiting for something to happen and the few times they do get to do anything they either don't know what to do or freeze up with stage fright because everyone is looking at them.
Throw in crazy parents and/or coaches (and they are out there) and the poor kid needs therapy to get over the whole mess.
There are plenty of other things for kids to do that are not team oriented and are physical - taekwondo, tumbling, skating, etc.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

I would not pull him out of the league. It's a life lesson.

Your son will come across difficult people his whole life, so use this experience to give him instructions on how to deal with it. Talk to him about how those boys made him feel, then ask him how he can deal with this situation next time.

Encourage him to stand up for himself, without "telling" on the boys. Give him some examples of what he can do, like staring at the boys right in the eye and saying something to defend himself. Have him practice this with you so he can do it the next time this happens.

As for not "getting" baseball, when my kids sign up for a sport or a class, I always make them finish it, even if they don't like it. They made a commitment to the team, so I make them honor it. Now, they don't ever have to sign up again, but they do have to finish the season.

This is a learning and growing opportunity. This kind of thing will happen over and over again, and you won't always be there. Teach him how to handle himself now while he's still young.

http://keystosimpleliving.com/kids_parent.php

5 moms found this helpful

Don't take him out yet. Since this is his first year, he needs some time to adjust. Keep trying to practice at home with him & try to make it as fun as possible. Maybe even give him a reward for practicing for 15 or 20 or however many minutes you find appropriate a couple of times a week. As far as the boys go, you will find them in any activity that you put your son in, they will just have different names. And the asst coach is right, in that boys will be boys, but you are right in that something needs to be said to them. I would probably have spoken up when it was happening & said something along the same lines as the little boy who did tell them it wasn't nice to call someone dumb and how would they feel if someone said that about them... I hope you told that little boy what a great job he did taking up for his teammate. I would also invite him over for a baseball practice playdate...

Hang in there. Try to find solutions to the issues that your son will have during his childhood. I would also be so nice to those little boys from now on, say hello to them by name & act as if you never heard a word. I did this with a little girl who was giving my daughter some grief at school. Everytime I saw her in the lunchroom or a school function I would go out of my way to say hi & smile at her. The problem seemed to disappear... :)

4 moms found this helpful

it would be SO hard not to react all mama-bear in this situation...i applaud you for keeping quiet...although i might have said something like, "that's not a very nice way to talk about your teammate, guys"...letting them know they were overheard and "busted"...i am sure they knew better, and they probably would have been super embarrassed to know an adult heard it. it's no different from office yakking many of us women partake in. we all know what it's like to have that one person that doesn't quite keep up, and sometimes it can hurt the team. it's frustrating. i would not take him out unless HE was unhappy, though. and i would try to work with him to help him AT LEAST understand the rules of the game. but go by his reaction, if he's having fun and wants to keep going, let him, and try to make it easier for him by helping him when he's at home. good luck.

4 moms found this helpful

Ooooh, I'm SO sorry you had to hear those mean words against your child--no parent ever wants to hear that! I think it's a tough call but if your child is fine with continuing to play (even with some complaints), I wouldn't pull him out. You say he enjoys the game and is trying really hard despite being a novice, which is so commendable at age 7! We have coached t-ball/baseball for three seasons now and know that even the best players on a team complain about practices or games, and about teammates they don't like at times. Part of the value of being on a team is sticking it out through the tough times and keeping your commitment to the team.

That said, I think the coach was wrong to not address the name-calling situation in a better way. He doesn't need the kids' names to keep an eye out for mean behavior on the team, and can do things like emphasize what it means to be a good teammate and to bring up the value of teamwork. Could you identify those kids to the coach and have him talk to them directly?

Also, if you observe that your child sometimes gets too rough trying to fit in with the group, maybe you could remind him before practice and games that he needs to be careful about not crossing that line. There's no excuse for hurtful words like that, but there may be something your son unknowingly did that precipitated those comments.

The last thing I'd say is that although you can't control what other kids are going to say, you can give your own child the tools to deal with hurtful situations like this. You can teach him how to stand up for himself and to be an ally to others in the same kinds of situations, just like how the little boy you described said, "It's not nice to call someone dumb." Although this situation is upsetting, I think unless you find it to be a persistent pattern of bullying that the coach refuses to address, you can use this opportunity to talk to your child about a whole host of important issues--working hard to become better at something that's not easy for you, being a part of a team even though there might be teammates you don't like, how to respond to mean comments and standing up for yourself. I'd also encourage your child to make friends with kids on the team like the nice kid who stood up for him. Having a friend on the team can make a big difference in his perception of the sport and attitude towards the team.

Good luck and hope this helps!

K.

3 moms found this helpful

Being the mama and knowing someone else doesn't love our kids for who they are like we do is hard!

A certain amount of "boys will be boys" *is* a good thing. Your son is going to have to learn to deal with all sorts of people in life. In the same way that you don't start teaching manners when they're five because they need to know some basic by then, you don't wait to let him start working some things out on his own. Guide him, yes. Don't let people be mean to him, of course. But they weren't talking to him or even where he could hear them. Gossip happens at all ages and in all places. As my husband said last night (okay, yes, he was referring to not getting too worked up over yet another hormonal outburst from his adoring wife *ahem*), teach him to grow a few more feathers on his back so that people (or words) like that will run off his back like water.

As for pulling him from the league, DON'T do it. Finish the season and then look for something else. And in the meantime, practice at home, too. And practice not being so rough. The fact that he doesn't realize he's too rough doesn't really make it okay, and it's not going to help him find friends to travel through childhood with. (This whole paragraph is based on mistakes I made with my own son, in case you were wondering.)

Hugs, Mama. I know it's tough, but you'll get through it.

3 moms found this helpful

I'd monitor the situation but don't hover.

Sport are important for fitness, learning to cooperate as a team, hand-eye coordination...so many things.

He will learn SO MUCH from sticking this out and learning how to get better and will improve his confidence and self esteem. He shouldn't quit something just because it's hard or he's not good at it.

We learn and gain the most from stuff we have the hardest time with. It shows us aspects of ourselves and traits we would never otherwise see because we have to dig deep.

It's not right to be made fun of or get teased but don't handicap him more by getting in his way and over-mothering. Help him by taking him to batting cages, pitching to him in the backyard, doing drills. Even if he never plays again after this season...make him the best damn seven year old to ever play the game and he will EARN respect.

2 moms found this helpful

you have 2 very important things to teach here. First if you think he is being picked on you need to teach him to stick up for himself. Whether he is challenging somone or letting an adult know. If you just pull him out HE WILL NOT LEARN. He will only learn to run and hide. Walking away is good for a fight, but not for being picked on IT WILL GET WORSE.
Also he has made a committment. When you sign up for a TEAM you basically agree to see it until the end. At least of the season. At that point you can allow him to not sign up again if he chooses.
If you think he likes it but maybe does not feel as skilled as the other players (some of whom have 3 years experience plus on him) get him some lessons or extra practice. Kids know when they are "not as good," he may like the social aspect of being with a team but may feel ashamed to have less skills. Ask him if he wants more training. If so it will build his confidence.

2 moms found this helpful

My answer depends upon how much you or your hubby know about the game. If you two know a lot about the game, get out and practice with him. Play catch, do some batting practice. You can give him pointers on fine tuning what he is doing. If you are not that knowledgeable check with the local High School coach, ask him if there is a player on his team who would be willing to work with your son a few days a week. He can show him some pointers and encourage him to actually learn the game.
If the other boys on your son's team have been playing a couple of years they may see your son as a loser because he doesn't know the game and it's fine points. A lot of kids love the idea of playing but are actually a bit scared of the ball. That ball comes at them really fast and they are afraid of getting hurt when they catch the ball. With some experience they learn that it doesn't hurt and they will catch the ball and not get hit by it as often.
I wouldn't take him out of the league until he gives it a real try. It could set him up to feel like a loser and the other boys could start to tease him at school. If he hangs in there and the other boys see he is really trying and learning they will come to accept him.

2 moms found this helpful

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