I Am Confused - Children's Soccer Team...

Updated on February 17, 2012
T.M. asks from Tampa, FL
26 answers

My children are on a soccer team for the winter season...the entire season is 8 weeks long. There are only 7 kids on the team. It was NOT inexpensive to pay the fees and buy the necessary equipment needed. We are on week 7 of the season. There is one child on the team that has missed 3 games out of 7. The other ones that he did show up for, he ended up leaving in the middle of the game without a word to the coaches. The only time that he actually stayed the entire game was the week that his Mom had signed up to bring snacks. I cannot figure out why the Mom would allow this behavior. When a child doesn't show up, that means that the other children have to compensate and sometimes do not get breaks like the other teams do. It is just not fair to the other kids when one member of the team does not pull their weight.

I have tried to understand the reasoning why the Mom would pay the money and sign her child up for soccer and then be this flaky. I understand that maybe their family might be going through a rough patch, but that doesn't explain leaving in the middle of a game without a word to the coach. The child doesn't appear to have any type of disability. I guess that it is possible that he has some sort of disability that isn't easily seen. However, I would think that a Mother would know her child best and would not sign the child up if she felt that he could not handle it. At this point, I wonder if she has just let her child quit.

I feel very strongly that it is a parent's responsibility to teach ethics and responsibility to their children. I explained to my two that we had committed for the 8-week season. If they didn't like it, they did not have to sign up again but they DID have to finish the season. Am I outdated in my thinking here? My parents didn't allow me to just quit things....I had to finish whatever I committed to....

ETA: This is the pee-wee league - the 3 to 5 year olds. They usually only play 4-5 kids from each team at any time. I guess the point I have is that this is expensive to do. It seems like such a waste of money to sign your child up for something and then not do it.

What can I do next?

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answers from New York on

They are the little guys. Good gracious they are 3-5 years old. They are
just learning to be social. At that age, they really do not know how to play
soccer. It is about learning to follow directions. You are getting worked up
about nothing. Cheer them on. This should not really matter to you.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

I guess you never can really tell what's going on within a family. I mean, when my oldest was 5, my middle son was in the PICU for 3 weeks, and I was pregnant and really sick. If we'd signed up for that session, who knows how many games we would've made. Unforseeable things happen all the time, right? And when the kid is only THREE-FIVE is it REALLY the end of the world if he misses it?


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

What I think matters is sticking to commitments & holding parents accountable.

The problem here is not only this family, but the fact that the coach isn't doing anything about it. If the kid continues on into competitive activities, that type of flakiness won't be tolerated.

Yes, something could be going on within the kid's family, but if there is, it's more beneficial to everyone for the kid to be taken out of the activity. To not do so is inconsiderate, IMO.

At the end of the day, though, really, you can't control what others do. And, they are 3-5 year olds, and it's not competitive league play. I've seen what pee wee teams & most activities for that age range consist of & there's not much being absorbed, honestly, it's more like play time. I get being frustrated, but it's not really worth it.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

If your this invested in what other moms do or don't do and its only a peewee soccer team your going to be nuts by the time little league starts. Just breath and ignore it. There are any number of reasons for the child to miss / leave early. maybe its a divorced family and one parent says flat out "not messing with that on my day" maybe the kid is not able to run as far and or as long. maybe they signed him up and he hates it so they last as long as they can. maybe they don't like nosy parents who complain about the cost and the parents who don't show up

12 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

3 to 5 year olds have no concept of ethics, commitment or what it really means to play on a team. Seriously, do you really think a child that young has that kind of cognitive maturity? I wouldn't expect my kids to really understand the concept of "follow through" until they were about 8 or 9, which is coincidentally about the age organized sports USED to start back when I was a kid, a more developmentally appropriate age than 3 to 5.
So this other mom wasted her money, lesson learned.
I signed my son up for organized soccer at the age of 4. He hated it, all he wanted to do was play on the playground next to the field. That was MY lesson learned.
We showed up for about 3 or 4 practices/games and then I let the coach know my son wouldn't be coming back, no big deal. I ended up waiting to sign my girls up for soccer when they were older, 7 and 8, and they had a MUCH better experience than my son, and no quitting.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Maybe it's just me, but I think you're taking this too seriously.
The kids you're talking about are pretty young.

I know some parents who sign their kids up for absolutely everything and the kids get burnt out. I know one mom who signed both of her kids up for anything they even mentioned an interest in and it was a nightmare. The husband put his foot down and said ONE activity per kid at a time. It was insanity.

My son's best friend wanted to play little league baseball. Begged and pleaded. His parents paid the fees and bought his uniform, cleats, etc. After the first week, he was over it. Oh....they made him go to every practice and every game and he was assigned a position. He just sat down on the field. It didn't matter if the ball came right to him. He would not budge to pick it up. When it was his turn to bat, he sat in the dugout.
They could make him go, but they couldn't make him play.
His first baseball season was his last.

It IS a parent's place to teach ethics and responsibility. However, this can be more challenging than it seems sometimes.
My kids were very into sports and loved their teams and were pretty dedicated. Not all kids are like that though.
Not all parents are cut out to be "soccer moms".

With kids the age you are dealing with, I think you should just focus on your kid having fun and not take it so seriously. What other parents pay for and do or don't follow through with should have no bearing on whether your child has a good time or not.
There isn't anybody out scouting 3-5 year olds for professional sports of any kind. The kids who benefit from participating benefit. The ones it doesn't work out for....it's not worth forcing. And it's not worth you worrying about, in my opinion.
You didn't pay for the other little boy's fees, it's not for you to be upset if he's there or not or even wonder why.

Just focus on your kid having a good time.

Best wishes.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I don't understand why this is even on your radar?? We're on a 4yo team... it's a joke, they just run around (except for a few good players) and don't really 'play' per say so the kids don't really have to pick up much 'slack' if someone isn't there. I would MUCH rather have a mom leave w/ a child that doesn't want to be there than stay.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Seriously 3-5 years old? And you expect the kids to be committed? Um...no. Pre-schoolers are allowed to be flaky. It's too bad there aren't more kids on the team, but it's not this poor little guy's fault that the team didn't attract more players. My 6-year-old begged and pleaded with us for months to sign up for kickboxing (his big sister goes a few times a week). We bought him two months of classes as part of a Christmas gift and after 3 sessions, he was miserable and after the 5th, we transferred the sessions to my 7-year-old.

You're talking about little teeny kids - no, they don't need to learn commitment at this age - it's not at all an age-appropriate expectation. Sorry.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My grandson was on a soccer team when he was 6. He is on the autism spectrum order and has difficulty focusing. Later we found that he has developmental issues that prevented him from being able to play in a co-ordinated way. He did miss several practices and a game or two. They nearly always left early because my grandson was beginning the path to being out of control. His mom did talk with the coach and I doubt that the coach told the other parents about my grandson's difficulties.

Ages 3-5 are very immature both physically and emotionally. I suspect it's a rare child who can be good at playing soccer. I could see a child not being ready for such a commitment. And because you cannot get a refund I could see the family making the best of it that they could.

It's important for our own happiness to refrain from judging others. It is impossible to know another family in such a situation. Give them the benefit of the doubt and you'll feel better.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

OK well, if these are 3-5 year olds, they need to be putting WAY more than 7 kids on a team!

3-5 years aren't going to have perfect activity attendance. They are so young. They are going to have some issues. We value team and ethics too and bring kids to every game and practice they have, BUT sometimes little kids do NOT end up liking the activity the first time they try it, they develop some little fear or phobia, and they aren't going to be mature enough to just go and give it a respectful try for the other players. At 9-12 yes, I would expect that, but at 3-5, this poor little boy may be crying and stressed out in a total meltdown at home, and his parents may be trying their very best to pump him up to going, but it just isn't working. So I'd cut them some slack. Maybe they're doing the best they can, and his parents just felt he wasn't going to be any kind of help to the team if he went there crying and refusing to play.

And until they are at least in about 4th grade, expect some kids have signed up only to see what color shirt they get and play with the grass and water bottles and play on the playground afterwards.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I didn't hold my 3 or 4 years olds to commitments I basically made for them! At that age, they can't comprehend an hour from now never mind what 8 weeks of soccer means. As for the money, maybe they have more than you do. It's not obvious to outsiders but we have a very good bank account so if I want to gamble on an activity for my child, it was my risk we could easily afford. We wasted money over the years but my problem and that type of money is a drop in the bucket to us. Sometimes I wanted to see if they liked an activity but felt they were kids and supposed to be having fun, not held to a standard I wasn't when I was 3. Just worry about your own family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I agree that at the ages you are talking about, it's really not necessary to get worked up about commitment, being part of a team, etc. They are only preschoolers, for heaven's sake. My daughter is 4 and was able to participate this past fall in "Little Kicker's Soccer" through our local parks and rec office. It's for 4 to 6 year olds and basically just an opportunity for them to learn some basic soccer techniques, kick the ball around, and have some fun and get some exercise. There was absolutely nothing competitive about it and sometimes there were kids that were either having a bad day, or just flat-out refused to participate, but it had absolutely no bearing on the rest of the kids there or what they were doing.

DD has tried other activities and so far so good - she loves everything and listens and participates willingly. Not every 3 or 4 year old is that capable. She is doing 6 weeks of ballet now, after telling me several times that she wanted to try it, and can't wait to get to class every week. She absolutely loves it. But there are always 3 or 4 other little girls that show up to class, start to cry, throw a fit, and refuse to go in the room without their mom or to take part in the class. It could be they are having an off day, or are not that mature yet, who knows. It's not my problem. Sometimes I think the parents have signed them up because the girls said they wanted to do it, but then actually following through is too overwhelming. Sometimes I wonder if it is more the parents wanting their girls to do dance and sort of pushing a little too much, already. Whatever. It's their money, not mine. What they choose to do with their kids, how they choose to handle it and the money they decide to spend, is not my concern.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

yes kids eventually have to learn about commitment to a team, but not that young... at that age they are figuring out what they like. Maybe you have athletic kids but as someone who had a kicking and screaming 3 yr old on the soccer field... trust me you are not doing anyone any favors by making them play.
I do agree it is a lot of money to pay to not have them play... but it is an expensive lessons lots of parents learn at that age.....
Kids will learn the importance of commitment to a team... but that tends to happen a littler older....

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Ummmm...at 3-5 years it's about TRYING new activities.
Seriously....you're in for a LONG life if you don't lighten up in this O..
Other parents are free to interpret "team" as they see fit--and it might "look" different than your interpretation.
And BTW, soccer is O. of the cheapest sports to play!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

A lot of kids that age just do not have the attention span you are talking about. In T-Ball a lot of those kids will start tyrning cart wheels or sit down and play in the dirt or pick flowers. In soccer it is more running and kicking so they get more tired. If he is done she has no real reason to stay. If the coach was to put him in anyway he might just start turning cartwheels or picking flowers instead of playing.

I would rather the team members that are ready and willing to play be on the field anyway. At that age they should only have 3-4 on the field from each team anyway. Him being absent gives the other players more field time.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

just a guess but it might be a case of mom signing him up as sort of a therapy type thing, maybe he does't have good social skills and she thought that if he did this it would help but maybe he's fighting her and she is caving. but i would think you would have noticed tears and tantrums.

maybe big bro has games that supercede these pee wee games but that she felt pressure for little bro to be signed up for somthign too.

or maybe it's someone else's money.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Not sure which you're focused on - responsibility or the cost. In terms of the responsibility, most people have said they're very young and I agree with that. I don't see the point in making a 3 year old cry to force him/her to go to an activity they don't enjoy. They're 3 or 4. To me that's unnecessary stress on a kid. It should be fun and if it's not, what's the point? I have started to instill the idea of committment as my kids have gotten older and have more of a sense of what it actually means. In terms of the cost, why do you care? Unless these people are on public assistance and therefore spending taxpayer money, not sure why you would give this more than a passing thought. Maybe to you it wasn't inexpensive but to them it is and you're jealous that they have that financial flexibility?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Has the coach told you specifically he doesn't know, didn't know the child was going to leave early? Wasn't going to be there?

Because as a coach, I am not going to share personal information with other team members just because they are curious.

And by no means are you outdated in thinking that they made a commitment. They should be there, for the whole time, let the coach know what is going on.
Nothing more irritating to a coach than to have this happen. Cause if there isn't a "good reason"...they're usually the first ones to complain their kid doesn't get enough playing time.

ETA: I don't think this is too young to teach responsibility, commitment to kids.

We once tried Karate...we paid for one month...by the end of week two the kids were not interested in it anymore (3-5 years old at the time)...we went the remaining two weeks because we/they committed to this. After the month was over, we did not go back.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

It is a waste. It isn't fair to that child, the rest of team, the coaches, or the kids that didn't get to be on the team because it was full. It always makes me crazy for kids not to show up because they do make if hard on those that are there.

Now, 3-5 year olds are very unpredictable and can be hard to sit through if they really aren't ready. That is why for most of them, organized sports should not be started that young. There are exceptions but they are just that. It is fine to have little clinics to help the kids learn some skills and cooridination while being active but to actually be an organized team, it is is just too much.

For them to have left without a word to the coach, it is not right but you don't know if they may have spoken to the coach ahead of time and said "If Johnny isn't able to stay, we will be leaving" or "We have somewhere to be and will be leaving at xx". Coach may have been well aware they were leaving.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

OK, I am confused too. Don't soccer teams need 11 players on the field? Plus additional for subbing in and out? It sounds like there are not enough kids anyway. Does having 6 instead of 7 really matter? Maybe she thinks that if her child is not there, then the other kids will have more playing time. That would have been my assumption and she may feel that if anything that is good.

Also - how old are the children? I would not force my six year old to continue a sport he did not like just because we signed up.

You also never know everything going on in their lives. Maybe the boy's grandmother is sick, maybe their dog died, maybe who knows. There was a little boy on my brother's little league team who missed a bunch of games without explanation. Until his parents finally shared that the boy had a brain tumor.

I have a friend whose son (I believe about 12 at the time) wanted to play football. No one in their family had ever played tackle football (and no, I would never let my son either) but they decided to go ahead. They told the kid that people would actually tackle him and that it would hurt. I think he intellectually understood but not in any visceral way. Right up until the first game - boom, tackled by a pile of kids twice his size. No his parents did not make him continue. I would not have either.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Yeah, it sounds like she doesn't think sports are that important. Some people feel this way and it is sad and not fair to the rest of the team.

~I had the same issue with dealing my SS's Mother. When the boys were younger we would sign them up for sports (it is in the Parenting Plan that the kids could play 2 sports a year, if they so chose) husband and I always had to pay b/c the Mom didn't think sports were important and then when it was her day w/the kids and they would have practice or a game she ALWAYS came up with excuses as to why they couldn't attend...one of the excuses was even 'they had to do the laundry' they were 7 and 9 at the time for crying out loud! Eventually we just stopped signing them up for sports, even though they really wanted to participate...but like you said, it's not fair to the rest of the team. So sad!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I'm with you - if we sign up for something, we finish out the season - no quitting in the middle. But it definitely sounds like there is something going on with the family or the kid himself. Maybe they simply can't make their schedules fit around the soccer schedule, maybe someone has an illness, or maybe mom is a flake - if the cost isn't a problem for them, maybe they just don't worry about missing practice/games. You can't get yourself upset about how someone else runs their household, it'll just make you crazy -
Smile, sigh, & shrug your shoulders, mama -

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

The money another family spends isn't anyone else's business as long as they don't owe YOU money, in my opinion.
I definately agree that we have no idea what is going on with that mom, that child, or other family members. Perhaps she got a phone call during the game that required her to come home early. Perhaps there's a physical issue. Perhaps the mom or child just don't "feel" like being there (I've read some goofy posts or responses where mothers think they have the right to keep others from playing sports just because the mom isn't interested, or dislikes sports). Perhaps (insert any random possibility, and there are hundreds, here)...If this were on my team and I were you, I would walk up and introduce myself and start a conversation. I would have done that from the FIRST practice though. Then you could feel a little more comfortable about asking if everything's ok, or if she wanted you to give her son a ride home so he could play, or whatever would fit that situation.
We went through a couple weeks (meaning 6 practices) where my son would have missed all that time at Kung Fu had I not made friends with a dad who lives nearby who has a daughter in my son's class. My son was able to ride to/from Kung Fu because of this other student's dad, instead of missing so much time because of our family situation that was not noticable to anyone, except this dad called to check with us because he knew us, and knew how much we ALL love my son's involvement. I think it's sad that so many times people fall by the wayside because we're so busy playing on our iphones that we forget to connect with people in our community. But that's a whole 'nother subject....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

My son hated soccer when he was 4 he would always come out when the coach asked who was ready to come out, i think he only went for the snacks. Then we swore we would never do it again, the following spring he wanted to play soccer again. Yup still hated it. Went to every practice though and finally in the last game he put enough umph into it to finally score a goal. We didn't let him miss practice or games because he didnt want to go. If he didnt want to play he would be on the sidelines supporting his team. My daughter spent half of her first season on the sidelines crying then turned out to be a beast of a soccer player and loves it. Now I am coaching my sons 1st grade bball team and I can tell you at this age it really irks me to have someone miss a practice or a game if they don't call me to let me know. It throws off every drill I have spent a lot of time on throughout the week or my equal player time. Now I can say that at that age its mass chaos and really it reflects poorly on the parents, but as they get older I hold the parents to a higher standard. So yes the parents should probably at least show up with the said child, yes they are super young so they can get away with it. But I really hope they don't continue until they can commit and/or the child is ready.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tallahassee on

I totally understand what you are saying, but please do not be so hard on them. You really NEVER know what another family is going through. I have experienced judgement from other parents who have no idea what is going on in my life and it just makes my heart break even more. Maybe reaching out to the parents and befriending them would be the best move. If something is going on they may just need support.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

There could be so many reasons. We signed up for soccer not knowing that practices would always be Tuesday nights. My son was already in cub scouts on Tuesday nights. So he missed about every practice. Perhaps they were in a similar situation. It is strange to leave in the middle, but these are just little kids. Maybe he wets his pants when he plays. I don't know.

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