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BLOG: Pressure to be the best is causing my child anxiety

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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, anxiety, and be open with communication. It may be best to communicate with your son about his feelings and thoughts with playing sports and explore what he wants to do.

If your son is willing to openly discuss his feelings/thoughts or anxiety with your partner, that would help your partner understand how he is doing. But if you’re son isn’t comfortable doing that, you can explain to your partner that you both can provide support, and a loving relationship with son, and ask that your partner let it be okay for your son to do his best (but that he doesn’t have to be perfect).

It should be your son’s choice to continue playing sports or take a break/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 Senior Therapist at Center for Child Counseling.

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