Question: My son plays a lot of sports, and I think he’s a little burned out. But my partner keeps pushing him to work harder and be the best. I think it’s causing anxiety in my son. How can I help my son and talk to my partner about the pressure he’s putting on him?
Answer: Acknowledge your son’s feelings and anxiety, and be open with communication. Explore what he wants to do.
If your son is willing to openly discuss his feelings and thoughts or anxiety with your partner, that would help your partner understand how he is doing. But if your son isn’t comfortable doing that, you can explain to your partner that you both can provide support and a loving relationship to your son. Encourage your partner to be okay with your son trying his best and accept that he doesn’t have to be perfect.
It should be your son’s choice to continue playing sports or take a break or stop when he needs. As parents, we want our children to do their best and succeed. But their happiness, health and social-emotional well-being is the most important.
In terms of anxiety and pressure, teach your son coping skills to calm himself, such as deep breathing, art/drawing, journaling, talking to others, etc.
If, after talking with your son and your partner, you’re still concerned, you may want to consider counseling, particularly if the issues become worse or they’re getting in the way of his ability to function at home or school.
Danielle Kinard-Friedman is a former senior therapist at Center for Child Counseling in Palm Beach County.