When to Stop Being Your Child's Coach

It may be tempting to correct your child if you see him making mistakes when he's playing sports. But it's better to leave that task to his coach.

Q: My son continues to make the same mistakes when he plays baseball. Why does he keep refusing to take criticism from me?

A: Ask yourself: Is making mistakes really that bad? The truth is, kids do tend to learn from their errors, especially if they keep on practicing. But 8-year-olds rarely flourish under parental criticism, regardless of whether it's well intended or not.

"Very few people, including adults, like to hear criticism, but it's especially difficult for an 8-year-old to accept," says Lawrence Balter, Ph.D., a New York child psychologist and author of Who's In Control.

Children this age are acutely aware of what they can and can't do, whether it's playing baseball or solving math problems. As a result, they tend to be highly critical of themselves. Instead of jumping in with well-meaning advice, Dr. Balter says, "consider that you probably already spend a lot of time correcting your child's everyday behavior. It's best to leave any additional coaching up to his actual coach."

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