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Behavioral Development

Q. My son is a natural athlete. A very good tennis player but when he is down a game or if the opponent is catching up, he starts to cry. Yes, he is only ten but what can we do to help him outgrow this destructive habit fast?

A. "There's no crying in tennis” (Tom Hanks in "A League of their Own")

It is very important to develop intrinsic motivational behavior, particularly at young ages. Unfortunately, there is rarely a magic-bullet approach to behavior modification, as there are typically a myriad of contributing dynamics to the situation. Trying to emphasize having fun and playing well, while de-emphasizing scoring outcomes can be helpful as your child learns competitive mental skills.

Explain to your youngster he can’t control winning or losing-just his performance state. A reminder as well that the best pro franchises are having a great year when they’re winning just over half of their competitions.

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