Whaddya say when your kid doesn't make it?

Not an earthshaking topic here, but I would appreciate your experiences/thoughts of what works and what doesn’t when a kid tries out for a competitive position and doesn’t make the cut. I would appreciate input from parents, from people remembering their own childhood experiences, or anyone else with 2 cents to toss my way.

My kids have primarily been involved in activities where you did not have to “make a cut.”

My youngest is a girl, almost 11. She has not really shown any great interest in any particular activity. She has been on a cheerleading squad the past 3 years. This year they were forming a competitive squad for kids going into 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. My daughter seemed really excited about it. She worked really hard on her own, she organized practises with her teammates, and had them over to the house to curl each others’ hair.

Bottomline, she just found out today that she didn’t make it.

More info, IMO she is really good at it. I don’t know why she didn’t make it. Part of the tryout was done as a team. She was the “flier” with 3 other girls who - to put it politely, didn’t have any realistic chance of making the team. So my wife is now saying we should have gotten her to try out with more talented teammates. Saying we weren’t there for her.

And a couple of her friends made it. In my non expert opinion, I don’t see them being any better than - if as good as - my kid.

In my opinion, while I think she should have made it, you don’t always get what you deserve. She was in a situation where her fate was decided by 3 judges, and you have to go with their decision - and move on.

And I know this is not the end of the world.

But to be totally honest, it is a lot easiier to say “Let’s go out for ice cream to celebrate” than to figure out how to turn a disappointment into a positive life lesson.

Aw, what the hell. Might as well go out for ice cream anyway!

Definite thumbs up on the ice cream. :slight_smile:

I personally don’t have kids, and don’t really envy your position. I just know that when I was in similar situations, my mother was the consummate Conspiracy Theorist: I didn’t make this or that because I was Black, my best friend (who is White) only made it because her parents were rich (and White), or my (Black) boyfriend got an award (especially for smart Black kids) that should have gone to me just because he was male and his father was a doctor…

Once, my best friend didn’t make the Flag Corps, but was listed as first alternate, and eventually wound up on the team when one of the original members got pregnant. My mother thought that was all due to the workings of the Political Machine, too! I just wonder how much they bribed that kid to knock the other girl up…

So all I can tell you in regards to advice, Dinsdale, is DON’T GO THERE with your daughter (of course, I doubt you would…)! It DOES NOT help. (And who knows…? Some of my mother’s theories may have been true, but it still DID NOT help.) :rolleyes:

Maybe see how she seems to be taking it, and take your cues from what she has to say about it…?

So you’re telling me I shouldn’t tell her she didn’t make it because she is black?

Might have been a bit of a hard sell. :smiley:

Even if it was a conspiracy like auntie em’s mother suspected, that is part of life. If your daughter picked the wrong partners to practice with, she did it because those were her friends. She might have known this wasn’t the best way, but she was more interested in being loyal to her friends. Cheerleading seems to be the most important thing to girls her age, but obviously there can’t be that many cheerleaders. There are other activities she can get involved in. Just make sure she knows that you are proud that she tried out and that you don’t agree with the decision. This is just part of learning the biggest lesson: Life isn’t fair!

Another vote for ice cream!

This is a hard situation, and although I haven’t had it happen with my kids yet, I would say that this would be an opportunity to teach how to react to things like this.

Maybe something like this: “You did your best, and that’s what’s important. I think you did great, and I’m really proud of you. There will always be other tryouts/competitions/whatever, and you should keep working on your skills so you’re ready for those. Now, let’s go have ice cream!”

I don’t think you and your wife should blame yourselves for not finding “better” teammates. It’s almost impossible to know why the judges chose the way they did, and the best way to handle it for the future, IMO, is for her to just keep slugging away at it, rather than trying to second-guess the judges.

Yeah, but if you did manage to convince her, I imagine she’d forget all about that crappy little cheerleading squad (hell, now she’s a shoo-in for the basketball team)!! :stuck_out_tongue:

I’d like to echo Bren_Cameron’s sage advice… make sure she knows you’re proud of her, and forget about speculations as to why she didn’t make it. Whether or not it’s true, dwelling on the issue might make her feel that, in addition to being disappointed herself, she has disappointed her parents as well, which will only make her feel worse.

And Bren’s right–it’s not your job, as parents, to make sure she makes the team–it’s your job to make sure she feels good enough about herself to keep trying! :slight_smile:

Ice cream seems to be the consensus, so who am I to argue. Get the girl a big ol’ cone of ice cream. Maybe over the ice cream you could suggest she try out for something else. There are a ton of other sports that girls can play, and just because she didn’t make THAT team doesn’t mean she won’t make ANOTHER team. (I’m gonna take some heat for this one) Besides, cheerleading isn’t a REAL SPORT anyways. :smiley:

If you just say this to her, you’ll do well.
This and a huge scoop of whatever her favorite is.
And definitely a hug and the words “I’m proud of you”.

It might be useful to find something fun for her to do on the days when cheerleading practice would be. When I was disappointed in my youth (which was quite often) the problem wasn’t that I didn’t make the team, as much as all my friends did make the team. Nothing sucks more than school getting out on Wednesday (or whatever) and knowing that while you are walking home alone, all your friends are off doing what you wish you were doing and having all kinds of group bonding stuff that you are missing out on.

“The lesson is ‘never try’.”

I have coached kid’s sports teams, boys and girls, for 16 years, and I’ve seen more than my share of: “Didn’t make its”.

First off, you’ve already received a great deal of good advice here, and I’ll second the ice cream.

In general, it seems to be a bigger thing with parents than with the kids. Kids shake it off pretty quickly.

I’m not trying to be a jerk here, but check out your objectivity. Parents as a group tend to see all the good in their children’s performance, and dismiss the glitches. Make sure you’re not doing that. Since the ultimate success or failure of a team, be it cheerleading or sports, depends on the ability of the team members, coaches and judges normally make a good faith effort to see that the best ones “make it.”
Your daughter performing in a group with less talented partners could certainly have hurt her chances, but, if has been suggested, she chose to do this out of loyalty, you should be proud of her for that.

Finally, try to keep her interested in trying something again. When success does come, it will be all the sweeter for her.

AND: I feel that there’s nothing positive to be gained from parents talking about how “It wasn’t fair”. Unless you are certain of your feelings (be able to “cite”), there’s nothing to be gained by letting the child hear this stuff. It will only destroy their confidence if or when they again find themselves in a competitive situation.

Hope this helps.


I don’t have kids but I do remember something from when I was 12 or so. I was racing BMX at the time and I blew a big lead and crashed (rather hard at that) and missed the finals. Before that I was almost always first or second. Anyway, blowing the race killed my chances to be sponsered by a local bike shop. That was a pretty big deal because I broke bike parts weekly[#1]. The guy who got the sponsership was someone I beat all the time.

My Dad took me aside and told me a) I was more qualifed and b) that some times a doesn’t matter. He then told me about a job applied for and should have got but didn’t. To paraphrase “Sometimes life isn’t fair”. A good lesson to learn. HTH.


#1. I broke everything you can break on a bike. The worst was on a 12 foot quarter pipe. I had broken then stem of the neck and didn’t know it. I rode up, hit the pipe, pulled back on my handlebars and the neck separated. The rest of the bike sailed away and I tossed the bars. I fell about 8 feet and landed right on my tailbone. The pain was insane. Amazingly the bike did not land on me. At that time I didn’t use any saftey gear. After that saftey gear was a must and I would pull apart my bike before any serious riding.

I think the best thing when you’re bummed out is when people–or parents–let you be sad, even when the problem is as minuscule as not getting picked to be cheerleader.

I remember I lost to my twin sister for fifth grade class president. My dad caught me crying about it and his advice was “Grow up or blow up.” I just cried harder. It’s not one of my fondest memories, let me tell you.

I think a nice “there there” and a big ice cream sundae will suffice. And as long as you’re at it, I fell down some stairs today. Can I get some ice cream too? :wink:

Wiser words were never spoken, auntie em.

Everybody–kid or adult–sooner or later faces contests where rules aren’t clear and the judging is…questionable. Contests aren’t always fair.

One contest doesn’t measure excellence. Or even sometimes lots of contests. But competing at all–if it’s done right–means testing oneself. The individual contest may not be fair but over time, if one keeps slugging away, the ultimate reward is realizing the effort IS the prize.

Ice cream works. Go fer it. Along w/ generous dollops of praise and respect for a brave kid.


My kids take pizza over ice cream, and a heartfelt “I’m proud of you, you did your best” never hurt either.

You also might remind her (and yourself) that even successful, talented people don’t make it all the time. For every hollywood role, there are a numerous talented actors who tried out and weren’t chosen. There are olympians who didn’t make the teams some years. Authors get rejection slips. Top singers get songs axed off their albums. The best racecar drivers sometimes don’t even finish the race.

It’s not a reflection on her, it’s the fact that not everyone can be on the team or in the play or win first prize.

Thanks for all the thoughts, folks.

As many of you suspected, she took it better than her p’s. Heck, I can’t think of ANYTHING I did competitively when I was 10-11.

She was confused about why she was not picked, and wanted to know what she could have done better. She signed up this morning for a gymnastics club, and will cheer for the football games in the fall. And we assured her we would support her in those activities and anything else she wants to do.

One of the wierd things with this kid, my youngest of 3, is that she has not really shown any signs of being really interested in anything, and doesn’t seem to have the best social skills. So we were really happy when she seemed excited about this activity.

And I don’t know what the process was whereby teams were chosen, but the other girls were not close friends of hers. So there wasn’t any loyalty issue there. While she is friendly with many of the other girls, she only has a couple of close friends, and neither of them were trying out. I think her lack of social skills may have kept her from “working” the situation to be on a better team. I was at a parents’ meeting at the time she was chosen, and when our meeting was over, she said she was on a team. I was just glad she had gotten teamed up with 3 other girls, and didn’t think about manipulating the membership to her advantage. I guess the situation was more competitive than I suspected, and I may have underestimated what it would take for her to get chosen.

Oh yeah - chocolate chip cookie dough for her, chocolate peanut butter for me.


Hmm - just MHO but would you really want your kid to be manipulating others in order to get what she wants?

Just a thought…?

I’m not a parent, but this thread made my think of a (Hallmark?) card commercial that really warms my heart. (Yeah I know, sappy, but it does!)

A young girl is preparing to perform in a (gymnastics? skating?) competition. Her mother hands her two envelopes and says something like, “Good luck, honey. This card is for if you win, and this card is for if you don’t.” She smiles nervously and leaves. The girl opens one of the cards, and it says something like, “Do you know how special you are? / I do.” Then she opens the second card. Same card. She smiles. Fade out.

Most of the responses in this thread have expressed the same sentiment.