Anthony possessed a flair for drama. He was generally talented, but also liked short cuts. He had learned the art of laziness. One day, Anthony declared that he was ready for his mother to find him a baseball team. He expected that she would do the “legwork” and make the necessary phone calls, and that he would be placed on a team without having to show up.

Anthony’s mom wondered about whether Anthony should have the choice to forgo weekly practices or whether he should be forced to attend. Mom cited his level of disdain and meltdowns the last time this was attempted. Anthony was able to cajole his way out of playing in the prior season due to his temper tantrums. Mom felt bad that he was having such a bad time and not enjoying himself.

Too often, we, as parents, create the monsters behaviourally. When Anthony’s mother decided not to give him the choice, Anthony initially “lost his mind”.   This was a light-bulb moment. Mom realized the manipulation and realized that she was not doing Anthony any favours by giving him such power.

Knowing his ability level, passion for the game, and raw talent, mom took the pressure off Anthony’s shoulders and re-registered him. This time the goal in mind was to create a structure of expectation, which did not include quitting.

If children do not like what we are doing, it means that we are doing something right. We are not their friends. They have tons of them (in theory). What children require are firm, but friendly and consistent expectations.   When your child is good at something and has demonstrated acumen for that particular activity (baseball), then it is the parents’ responsibility to say “no” to the manipulation (that is not fair) and yes to the advancement of the child (real-world thinking and living).