When Your Kid Doesn’t Get Picked


It’s a new school year. For many of our kids, there will be tryouts for either for sports or a certain club: choir, dance, perhaps even the school play. What all of these students have in common is that some will make it in their chosen activity… and some will not.

sports disappointmentThis is the grueling part of parenting— when our child gets their hopes up about being picked, only to find out they are not one of the “chosen ones.” Talk about learning how to walk your child through heartbreak and rejection!

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the beginning of 7th grade. My best friend, Leslie Parker, and I tried out for cheerleading. I was so excited! The next morning, we both ran together to read the list of girls chosen for cheerleading. She was chosen and I was not. I wanted so much to be happy for her, but all I could do was cry.

Fast-forward 28 years. I have since moved on from that disappointing year of not being chosen (and have had many other experiences since). My son just started 7th grade, and he had been so excited to try out for flag football. He absolutely loves football (he used to sleep with his football).

He tried out last year, but just wasn’t quite ready. He said he knew he’d have a much better chance as a 7th grader, and I agreed. People are always telling him he’s a great player and that he’s really good at catching. I dropped him off in the morning and said a little prayer for him, as he would be trying out after school. I felt a little anxious because it’s literally the only sport he wants to play. My husband picked him up from tryouts, and we all awaited the news the next day. Just like my tryouts with my best friend, my son also tried out with his best friend.

competition disappointmentWhen I picked him up the next day I didn’t say a word. I just waited for him to say something. Finally, my older son broke the silence, “So, did you get picked for flag football?”

The tears quickly began to roll off his face. “No.”

I did all I could do to console him while driving home. Truth be told, my heart was breaking for him… he was crushed. Our evening was a mix of anger and sadness. He later told me that all of his friends made the team. He felt as if he was being told, “You’re not good enough. Everyone was picked but you.” I tried to assure him that we would find something for him, but in that moment, there was no other team or sport or club that would console those feelings of rejection and disappointment.

I know that this is the not-so-fun part of raising kids. I want to make sure I’m doing all I can to balance out between being compassionate and preparing him as he gets older to face and overcome disappointments. Mamma can’t always make everything better {sigh}.

Not Picked: A few tips on handling the disappointment

1. Don’t try to have all the answers. Just so you can make everything better or hope it goes away. Your child will need time to process his or her feelings. If you short-change that process, any other disappointments in life could feel like they’re the end of the world. Don’t rush to make it all better; they need to be okay with not being okay.

As moms, we want to fix everything (I may or may not have gone to talk to the coach the next day). But I’m learning, as they get older, I need to allow them to go through some hard things {sigh again}. To me, it’s one of the hardest things about parenting— watching their hearts break and feeling helpless to fix it.

Bill Speros, a sports columnist wrote:

It sucks when your kid isn’t playing. Been there, done that. No reasonable parent wants to see their child hurt. But no one escapes this life unhurt, emotionally if not physically.

When these kids move on in life, they are going to get rejected when they apply for college, turned down when they ask out someone for a date, fail to get the job they want, the shift they want at work, and taste failure and disappointment on multiple fronts.

This is so hard to hear, but if we can help them navigate through these disappointments now, while they’re living under our roof, we can help to make them stronger and build their character.

2. Use it as a learning experience. Remind your child that there will be more opportunities, and use this time to prepare them for the next time they have tryouts (even if that means next year). If it’s choir, enroll your child in voice lessons. If it’s flag football {ahem} sign them up for a city league so they can get some experience.

3. Sometimes they just need your presence. My son couldn’t be consoled much by my words, but I knew he didn’t want to be alone. I was just there for him, even though I didn’t have all the answers. (We ended up watching a movie together.) Our kids need to know that we are always there for them, no matter what.

4. Be careful of your own emotions. Sometimes, without even realizing it, our emotions (and expectations) can effect how the child responds. If we were set on them being on the dance team and they didn’t make it, we could start to criticize the dance teacher without even realizing it. “Doesn’t she realize how good you are?” “Who does she think she is?!” All this teaches the child is self-entitlement when, instead, we need to teach them a proper respect for authority— even if we don’t fully agree or understand.

Also, if our child feels our disappointment when/if they don’t make a certain team or a tryout, that can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on them. They feel like they let us down. I often have to process my own thoughts without saying them out loud.

5. Be sensitive about the whole “friend” thing. This has the potential to come between friendships, but you can be pro-active so that it doesn’t. Your child’s friends that made the team/ earned a spot will understandably be excited (as they should be) and become more preoccupied with their new club, activity, or sport. Your child might feel isolated and left out. Your child will even have a hard time not being jealous when he/she sees them perform or compete.

You can help your child learn how to be a good friend by supporting their friend (although this is not always easy). You can also help to make sure you set up playdates or encourage older kids to hang out aside from school. This is important to keep the friendship going.

6. Pray for you child. It might sound simplistic, but our kids need us to cover them in prayer. Everyday they’ll be faced with situations and challenges that will affect them. Ask God to turn this hard situation around into a positive. Ask Him to comfort your child’s heart when they’re hurting. And ask Him to give you wisdom on how to parent them during tough times, because as we know, each child is so different.

All of us at RGV Moms Blog are with you! This parenting thing is hard, but together we can do it! Don’t give up, keep doing the hard work and, when you don’t have all the answers, just show up.


  1. Great article! My child went through three really bad experiences within a month so I decided to search for a group that organizes playdates but I couldn’t find any! I decided to create one but I really don’t have much experience nor many contacts to begin with. Would you be willing to start one within your group or maybe help me start one?? I would be forever grateful!

  2. I am crying reading this. My daughter tried out for everything in middle school and kick line in high school. All her friends were picked for kick line but not her even after 8 years of dance. My heart broke for her. She said she would never try out for a team again. She will be a senior and has never tried for another sport. In my town if your not the gym teachers favorite or high in the pta or a parent who will threaten your not gettig on a team. My daughter has gotten past everything and is a well adjusted extremely confident teen. Maybe even more then some of the kids picked for a team. Shes applying for colleges and her essay will be about teens who do not get picked for teams. Your story is inspiring and thank you for writing it. Its not easy.


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