Resiliency lessons in the old ball game

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: After our 9-year-old grandson struck out several times playing baseball, I asked his mother if he was feeling down about it. She talked with him, and he said it wasn't his fault, it was the umpire's fault. Is this normal thinking for someone his age? Do you see problems down the road with this type of attitude?

--Grandma

DEAR GRANDMA: I do think this is "normal" thinking for a 9-year-old, and this is why 9-year-olds aren't allowed to vote, drive a car or play pro ball. Mature and compassionate adults must step in to correct this thinking.

This boy's parents (and other family members and adult mentors) should work with him, starting now, to introduce and reinforce the idea of taking personal responsibility for his actions.

Parents are a child's first and most influential coach. They should demonstrate accepting personal responsibility for their own failings and the ability to be resilient and good-natured through failure.

I shared your question with Mike Terson, former public address announcer for the Chicago Cubs and an experienced coach in youth sports. He has seen many baseball games (and many strikeouts).

His response: "Plenty of professional baseball players strike out a lot. Every player at every level strikes out. The key to youth sports is having fun.

"Striking out isn't fun, especially striking out all the time. This child should be encouraged to realize that what happens in baseball is about as critical as the outcome of a family game of Monopoly. And if he is upset about striking out, that is something that he can work on and improve. If he doesn't have the desire to do the work necessary to improve, baseball might not be of interest to him. He should be encouraged to try some other sports or activities that he might enjoy more."