How to Make Sure your Child Suffers from Burnout

How to make sure your child suffers from burnout and fails to become a well-rounded person.

1.  Find an area in which they excel and make them practice it for prolonged periods of time each day, starting as young as possible.

2.  Only make time for one activity, letting your child know they don’t have time to play another sport or participate in another activity because they are so gifted in this one “special” activity.

3.  Focus on drills and skills, creativity and fun should always come second.

4.  Let the coaches or teachers know how gifted your child is, and to make sure they see things the same way you do, make sure you attend every practice and every game and give your opinion on how your child is developing.

5.  Find a really intense coach or teacher and agree to put the special activity above all other things, especially other sports or music lessons.  Make sure you have this intense coach or teacher from the time your child is 8 years old.

6.  Focus on winning at a young age.  After all, you can’t be a future Olympian if you didn’t win the 8 year old girls travel soccer league.

7.  Talk excessively on the sideline about how talented your child is at the activity.  It is really important that all the other parents know about your child’s talents.  This builds hype and will make your kid buy into their star potential.

8.  Talk excessively on the sideline about all the opportunities available for your child.  If she was invited to play on a special team, let everyone know about it and make them all feel that if they aren’t doing it too, their child must be a loser with no talent.

9.  Ignore that children mature at widely different ages.  If your child is a 5 foot tall 10 year old, ignore that their success is largely related to their size.  Keep telling yourself that they will continue growing at that pace, and will likely be the first 7 foot 300 pound person in your family.

10.  Yell at officials who make bad calls.  It doesn’t matter that they are volunteering their time.  They are ruining the game with their lousy calls and deserve to hear it from the sidelines.  This will definitely give your child an edge in future competitions.

11.  Make sure you buy all the best equipment.  This equipment will emphasize to your child how important the activity is, and make them look better than all the other kids.

12.  Starting when your child is very young (no later than age 8 or 9), be willing to pay for extra training sessions and the best coaches.  If you have to take a second job to afford this, it’s worth it.

13.  If your child is athletic, let them know music is for sissies.  If they are musical, let them know sports are for meatheads.  Under no condition should a child be developed in both areas.

14.  Keep emphasizing that you are doing all this because your kid will get a scholarship.  Tell your kid about the scholarship and make them feel their worth is directly related to their ability to achieve said scholarship.  Ignore the very small number of scholarships actually available, because your kid is special.


Lest you think I’m a lazy parent, please know that I do consider myself somewhat of a “tiger mom.”  I believe in hard work for kids, but in proper proportions and always with an emphasis on character over results.

"Thank you for all your years of blogging. It has been such fun and a ..."

A Final Post
"Just for anyone researching this subject, I teach elementary music and most pop songs, lyrically ..."

Pop Music and Kids
"MA, it took me forever to comment on this post, but wanted to thank you ..."

Christmas to-do list
"Way to go, MA! That's the spirit, just one step at a time. I started ..."

Christmas to-do list

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Adele

    Do you actually know people like this? So glad I no longer live on the East Coast…

  • Kellie “Red”

    Adele, yes, but not every one on the list. I hope it’s just a North East thing. Personally, my favorite is # 9.

  • JMB

    Welcome to my world:)
    There are far more scholastic scholarships available than athletic ones. I’ve seen too many children get thrown by not making the Travel A team and decide that they stink and give up the sport.
    My dh coaches 7th & 8th grade girls rec lax and has seen some very mediocre players suddenly “get it’ midway through 8th grade and catch up to some of the better, travel team players. High school is open to all, and ironically, many of the football/soccer and lax players in my town switched sports in middle school or didn’t do the travel soccer route. Don’t give up but certainly, don’t over do it!

  • Kellie “Red”

    If you are a baseball player, the chances of playing professionally are higher than the chance you will get a full athletic scholarship. Not to mention that by the time you spend $2000-$5000 a year for a “special club team” where you get recruited by the top schools, you could pay for a local college!

  • It’s crazy how young the kids here in TX start playing sports seriously. Take baseball as an example: T-ball begins in pre-K, junior machine pitch in K, and senior machine pitch starting in 1st. Then they move on to coach pitch, private lessons, year-round teams, etc. My son didn’t start playing until this year, and as a 2nd grader he was playing with K and 1st-grade kids who have already been playing for 2-3 years. We figured that if he was going to learn how to play, he needed to start this year! It’s just a huge time commitment. I’m glad we did it because he enjoyed playing, but we may have already missed the boat, which is so crazy to me.

  • Saoirse

    I have a very strong dislike for sports parents like this – but my personal favorite are those who sit on the sideline and complain vehemently about the athletic ability of others on the team and how they are holding their gifted child back. I dealt with this in 5 year old soccer this year. (Might I add it was 5 year old noncompetitive league.) When I calmly recommended to the mother that she be aware that the parents of these children were surrounding her. She suggested it was better that they became aware of the problem now so they could discourage them from playing again next year. Seriously? When I looked stunned she commented that my son was very athletic – and I should encourage him to take it more seriously and not pass the ball to the nonathletic children. I was actually speechless because I had only heard about people who did this. My kid only plays soccer because he gets to see his friends. He could care less – and we push sports to learn how to get on in a team environment and stay fit. This year he played 4 different team sports. He liked all of them and shows no sign of picking a sport. And, we like it that way.

  • Mama Turtle

    When I look at what my East Coast friends’ kids are currently involved with (time commitment, number of activities, etc) versus what my kids do (small town, western PA), I can’t figure out how they have time even to eat dinner! I’m sure this type of competitive atmosphere happens in other regions of the country too though.

    Out of curiosity, I’d love to hear more about other moms’ children’s ages and what they’re currently involved with! I really struggle in this area – my tendency is to err on the side of “free play” (I hate the idea of too much, too soon!), but I’m starting to see that my children could benefit from the structure that activities or lessons provide.

  • Chris

    Agree…#9 is all-time funny!!

  • My children are 20, 11, 10, 9, and 7 and we are east-coasters (is that a word?). We DO NOT involve our children in extra-curricular sports. I actually had a parent respond very negatively to me this year when I informed her that enrolling my children in a local soccer camp was too time consuming. We firmly believe in ‘family time’ and don’t think that we can do that properly running our children from one activity to another. I have witnessed parents running in late to 1st Communion classes after soccer practice and not even had dinner yet. And don’t even get the DRE involved in this discussion. It gets worse and worse every year as parents complain about having to bring their children to Saturday retreats when they have games.

    And it’s not just the GAMES. We have cheerleading as early as grammar school. My oldest daughter has wanted to be in cheer for as long as I can remember. It makes me feel guilty that I haven’t let her do it, but it is time and money spent on something that I don’t think holds any value in our lives.

    I am looking forward to stepping away from it all as we plan to travel the country with our children soon.

    God bless all of the Builders. I so enjoy reading your lives. You are an inspiration in faith, hope, and family.

  • Kellie “Red”

    For us, choosing not to play sports isn’t really an option. I LOVED my experience as a young athlete, and playing a sport through college really helped me incorporate fitness and activity into my life. I think opting out completely is really tough on kids who have an interest, and to be honest, I think this all or nothing mentality is too present from both the people running youth sports and the parents. One encourages burnout, the other deprives kids of the chance to play for a team, learn a new skill, develop different muscles, etc. It seems it is one extreme or the other around here. I’m trying hard to carve a middle path for my fairly athletic children, but it is quite difficult to do when parents have the mentality that I described in my post.

  • JMB

    I have four children ranging from 16 to 10. My oldest has been involved in wrestling since 4th grade when he dropped basketball and I told him that he had to do a winter sport. My children are happier when they are physically active, as am I. After a few years he began to get pretty good at it and now he’s on his high school’s varsity team. Throughout elementary and middle school he played jr football and loved it, but he is not good nor big enough to play on his high school team. He therefore does Cross Country and Track in fall/spring. This seems to be a good balance for him and we as a family like to go to his meets and cheer him on.
    My girls all played soccer, basketball and lacrosse until they didn’t want to. My youngest dropped soccer for cheerleading, and my oldest is entering high school this Fall so she is looking at cross country and/or volleyball. My middle one is still enjoying the three sports. All of my girls have taken ballet/jazz since they were preschoolers. The two older ones are en pointe, the younger one is itching to start gymnastics. For some reason, we make it work through a lot of carpooling and crazy logistics. I encourage my children to stick with the sports, even if they are not that good at it. If it is more work to get them to the game than I think is normal (I have to yell at them to get their things together) than I will allow them to drop the sport at the end of the season, as long as they put a season or two in under their belt.

  • Mama Turtle

    Thank you for sharing! I just enrolled our four year old in tumbling (once a week) and swim lessons (they’re every day for two weeks – for us, that’s a safety issue; I want my kids to be able to swim). I put her tumbling in part because I am so pregnant, and I’d like her to have a way to get some exercise without tiring me out or without her little siblings slowing her down (sad, yet true!). She’s in swim lesson for the same reason- I can’t safely teach her to swim and wrangle/ care for the other two at the same time.

    I really appreciate the good things about sports- the teamwork, cooperating, leadership, physical exercise, and creating a life-long interest, but it’s hard to know when to start kids on teams and how much is too much (that seems to happen quickly!). Many of her little “friends” have been taking tumbling since they were 2 or 3 years old – for our family, that seems a little young! I’m also trying to figure out what sports teams/dance lessons/etc. is going to look like in a bigger family – we are very fortunate that music lessons, karate, dance, t-ball, swimming, and soccer are all within walking distance from our house. Hopefully as my children get older, they’ll be able to take themselves to some of these activities!

  • Kellie “Red”

    Both my 6 and 8 year old do swim team and play soccer. My 6 year old son does not do t-ball, but plays at a local baseball camp (less time). He will start baseball when he is between 7-9 years old. Both my 6 and 8 year old take piano, and my 8 year old sings (in choir for a few months and then in a summer show). We plan to sign up our 8 year old daughter for rec basketball this winter. Soccer seems to be a year round commitment around here, and I hate that.

  • Shared on Pinterest and found it interesting that on the same day I also read this –

  • I would love to give my kids more athletic opportunities, but everything I find is competition based, with practices 3-4 times a week and games on Sat. and sometimes Sunday. Doesn’t anyone play sports for fun anymore? Whenever I can find a program that more relaxed and geared towards teaching the kids a new sport/skill and letting them play for fun it’s too far from our house or too expensive. My husband and I have worked to start homeschool sports clubs in our area but the time commitment is more than we can shoulder alone and I’ve dealt with too many non-committal homeschooling families to keep trying to create from scratch programs that meet our families needs. I keep thinking this is a problem we will figure out once the kids are older, but each year comes and goes, and I still feel like I’m either holding them back by not enrolling them or spreading myself too thin by allowing each child one outside activity that requires running around.

  • Julie

    Bill and I are laughing out loud!!! You are hilarious!! Loved this one!

  • Rudy Huxtable

    I wish I understood the purpose of this post. Frankly, it just seems to be a mean-spirited, condescending and, generally, low attack attempting to pass itself off as humor. Written in a different tone, it might have actually been helpful.

    For the record, I didn’t conclude that you were a lazy parent after reading this. Judgemental and superior, absolutely. But not lazy: after all, what lazy person would spend 14 public paragraphs cataloging the perceived parenting flaws of other caregivers who are, presumably, making their own best (if misguided) efforts?

    If you truly place “emphasis on character,” you might reevaluate the nature and purpose of this piece in terms of your own.

  • Rudy Huxtable

    And just to clarify, I am a parent and, like you, I have witnessed what I think is reprensible behavior on the playing fields and in the classroom. But equally reprehensible is this kind of self-indulgent, self-serving response.

    Regarding the much-loved #9, what would you have the parent of a more physically mature child do? Walk around disclaiming his/her abilities because of size? Publically dismiss their efforts and/or success? Do you think that parent isn’t aware of your whispering that the child is the best only because he/she is bigger? How exactly should this child be advocated for?

  • Kellie “Red”

    Rudy, yes, the post was meant to be a sarcastic and humorous commentary on some of the worst parenting behavior I have witnessed. Apparently, it hit a nerve with you. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate.

    And regarding #9, I don’t think we need to be advocating for our kids on the sidelines of the sports field. That’s part of the problem. They are learning and playing a game. Always keep that in mind.

    And if by chance you happen to be the parent of a larger than average child, the best way you can help that child is to focus on the way they are performing the skills, style over results. Let them know that they will not always be bigger than the other kids, and so they need to learn the right way to swim, swing a bat, shoot a basketball etc. Far too many parents are focused on the result, and “advocating” for their kid on the sideline, rather than on making sure their child is learning something, trying hard, having fun. Good luck!

  • maryalice

    Kelly, I’ve had a similar experience where low key things tend to be of poorer quality or unreliable, so I totally relate. It is hard to find balance. For example, my kids have hit a point with swimming lessons where they can swim well enough to be out of the highest available lesson at our Y, but not to actually do most of the strokes properly. The next step is a commitment to a swim team, which we do in the summer but can’t commit to year round. I would love to have them take a swimming lesson one or two nights a week year round, but that doesn’t seem to be an option past the basics.

    On the other hand, our little league is pretty good, the kids play or practice one or two nights a week and on Saturday morning. I would still prefer more skills practice and fewer games, but I can live with it, and for the most part the parents and coaches involved put a good emphasis on having fun playing the game and being good sports. Our brief experience with “all star” travel baseball was a little too intense for us and for our player, so the choice not to repeat it was pretty obvious for us.