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Why Supporting Your Teen's Choices is Key


When encouraging children to be well rounded, there’s no doubt that participation in sports is part of the equation. Balancing academics, social life and staying physically active is not only healthy, but also helps students acquire technical and life skills. Parents indeed want their children to be as well-rounded as possible. But when students decide to go off the beaten track in choosing a sport, this can create concern for some parents.

Tread lightly

Dr Azim Nesseri, Director at Shanghai Counseling, advises parents to tread lightly when expressing concern for their children’s choices, especially if it is something the student is passionate about:

Your child is not an extension of yourself...Realizing this, parents can avoid projecting their own fears and apprehensions onto their child. For example, if a father has a very masculine view of himself and his son requests to take ballet, the father’s reaction may be a projection of his own apprehension and dislike of this idea, since he would never do such a thing.”

Sania Arndt, a 10th grader at Shanghai American School (SAS), Pudong, is a rugby and soccer player. Although it is her first year playing rugby, she has been playing soccer in competitive leagues since the young age of six. When she decided, along with a group of friends, to try rugby this year, her parents weren’t so sure whether they agreed with her decision:

“They weren’t the biggest fans when I told them I was going to try out for rugby...I think they were surprised at first and didn’t take me seriously, but then when they realized I wasn’t kidding, it put them on edge. What they associate with rugby is getting concussions, having only one ear left and just putting yourself through a physically brutal environment for a good 20 minutes.”

Children are unique

As Nesseri puts it, “fears and worry at various levels flood parents' minds as they try to figure out what on earth their child is thinking. Children are unique and developing individuals with their own set of interests, talents and capacities. They are not a ‘mini-me,’ so we must be careful not to project these worries or biases on our children"...

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