Article: Janis Meredith: How to help your kid when 'I'm trying' doesn't work


In every classroom, on every team, in every music group, there are kids who seem to have it easy.

They barely study and get As. They go easy in practice and yet still outperform in games. They don't practice much but manage to make the elite singing group every year.

If your child is blessed with an ability or skill or intelligence that comes easy, I am glad for you. It is a joy to watch those children play and perform and succeed. It is truly a beautiful thing.

But that wasn't the case with my kids. All three of them had to bust their butts for every good grade, every starting position, every minute of playing time. And sometimes even when they worked really hard, it still didn't pay off.

There were many days when I heard those words, "it's not fair that I have to work so hard and he doesn't."

And there were many days when "I'm trying, Mom" didn't seem like it was going to get the job done.

On those days, how can you help your child?

1. Agree with their frustration. Yes, they have a right to feel discouraged. No, it doesn't seem fair at all. In fact, you are probably just as frustrated as your child is. 2. Relive the victories. Remind your child of the times when she worked hard and it paid off. It's easy to forget small victories, but it's important for your athlete to remember that if she succeeded before, she can do it again.

3. Offer opportunities for improvement. That looks differently for everyone. It may mean offering to rebound when he shoots baskets in the driveway or taking him to the weight room to work out or signing her up for a volleyball camp or speed training class.

4. Find a source of strength. What is it that gives your child hope? What pumps them up? What helps them to dig deep and keep trying? Is it your faith? Family? Friends? Perhaps a role-model whose example inspires?

We prayed a lot with our kids as they grew up. And my son always loved stories of athletes, such as Josh Hamilton, who came back from drug addiction to play baseball, or Tim Tebow, who's spent much of his football career proving the doubters wrong. Tim's words have rung true in our family: "I've lived by this quote since I was 6 years old," says Tebow. "'Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard."

5. Encourage them to not settle for the status quo. It's easy for kids to resign themselves to situations because "that's just the way it is." But when an athlete chooses to keep fighting, amazing things can happen.

In 28 years of being a coach's wife and 18 as a sports mom, I've seen the unlikely, even the seemingly impossible, happen over and over again.

Kids who barely played as high school freshmen end up starting on varsity. Kids who didn't make the team one year make it the next. Kids who never thought they'd play in college end up playing four years.

When your child fights the status quo, anything can happen.

Erin Harner, athletic performance coach, says that attitude is everything. "If you think you can or you think you can't, either way you are right. Getting the mindset and attitude of the student-athlete in line with their goals is the first step to achieving success."

I shed a lot of tears for my kids as I watched them give their all, sometimes without much success. But there was and is a silver lining to all those clouds. And that is this: your kid may not have it easy, he may have to work harder than others to succeed, but I promise you that he will be a stronger person for it.