Question: Our twelve-year-old boy has never “gone in” for baseball or football or games of that type. He is friendly and well liked but of course when most of the boys go in for these sports, he feels “out of it.” We have given him opportunities for camping, sports, etc. and he does well in swimming, tennis, horseback riding. These sports are not, however, as convenient or as “regular” as the ball type of games. In ball, he feels awkward – always has an tries to get out of playing. He is talented in other ways – music, writing, dramas, etc., but these, of course, do not take care of the “game spirit.” Do you think we should insist on his doing sports which he does not apparently enjoy?

Answer: Some boys are not the athletic type and nothing that can be done will make them so. It would seem to be cruel, therefore, for you to insist upon your son’s trying to be an athlete when athletics do not appeal to him and he has no particular skill in them. 

It is quite likely, of course, that his lack of skill is responsible for this lack of interest in such ball games, and it might be well for the father to take some time to help him develop what skill he is capable of developing in football and baseball. If he could became skillful enough just to “get by” when the gang plays these games, it might help his status with them.

If the father discovers, however, that the youngster doesn’t have the ability to do even fairly well in these sports, it’s far better to accept that fact and to divert his attention to areas where he can do well, and for which he will receive the recognition of his peers. Two additional comments are in order. Be sure to check up on his physical condition to discover why it is he does not seem to have the energy of other boys. Also, try to make your own home so attractive in the sense that there are things to do, that members of the and will enjoy coming to it. 

Question: I have a daughter eight who is quite high tempered. Generally after the holidays, she is ill a day unless she misses some of the excitement of those times. I notice she loses her appetite for a meal if we are going out immediately after. She is an intelligent, quick and quite artistic girl. She is also in good health. As a child, I had a temper and was nervous and irritable. After I was through school, I learned to control my temper. What can we do other than keep things as normal and routine as possible? I should like her growing up to be more calm than mine.

Answer: Keeping things as normal and routine as possible is probably the most effective way you can help your daughter. As suggested in the discussion below on individual differences, some children seem to inherit a nervous system that is much more sensitive to various kinds of stimuli than that of other children and consequently they are much more excitable and emotional.

I note your comment that she is in good health. If you have not already done so, however, I would suggest that you check with your physician to make certain that she does not have a physical cause for her nervousness. Sometimes the malfunctioning of one or more of the endocrine glands brings about irritable and nervous behavior.

You will make a special effort, of course, to be understanding and patient with your daughter. While you cannot and probably should not shelter her from all exciting events, you will endeavor to keep them at a sensible minimum. Your own example of calmness and self-possession whenever she gets angry or excited is important. The next time she gets wrought up, let your own response be in tones that are quiet and deliberate and see if this does not have a calming effect on both her and you.

Some experimentation may be necessary in order to discover how best you may deal with her manifestation of temper. At times, you may want to ignore it; at other times it may be well for her to be isolated from others for awhile; still again, you may have it understood that certain privileges will be temporarily lost when anger flares indiscriminately. 

Whatever method you use, be sure to assure her of your love and affection. 

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