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DS gets really worked up before competing at sports events - cbt/counsellor maybe? Anyone else have a competitive yet anxious/perfectionist child?

(9 Posts)
Absurd Tue 09-Apr-13 10:54:15

DS is 11, and has been doing athletics (mainly sprints but also middle distance) for about three years now. He trains three times a week and never has to be reminded or nagged, he just loves it.

He wants to compete. When he does, he does really well, and comes out buzzing, saying he is glad he has done it. His coaches reckon he has a lot of potential.

Trouble is, he gets himself really worked up before a meet, He can't sleep, chews his nails, and in the morning before really goes awol, refusing to get out of bed, saying he wants to stop altogether etc. However, once we get to the track, he gets into the zone, and no sign of nerves once he is warming up etc.

We don't want his fears (and we aren't sure what they are about tbh) to stop him doing something he enjoys and is good at, so am wondering if there is such a thing as a child cbt sports therapist or the like?

His coaches don't know the extent of his nerves as once he is there he seems ok, but we bear the brunt. He is prone to prefectionsim in all apsects of his life (from him, not us, I might add), and I can see that it is doing him harm.

Any suggestions? We are in London, but prepared to travel if there is a good recommendation smile

Absurd Tue 09-Apr-13 11:57:38

Anyone? smile

MegMogAndOwl Wed 10-Apr-13 08:02:48

Sorry I can't really help but you might get more responses if you ask for your post to be moved to extra-curricular activities.

For what it's worth I know adults that have had good results from neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) but I've no experience of this myself

shoesontheglasslamp Wed 10-Apr-13 10:07:07

Just a thought - would your DS benefit from reading (excerpts, vetted by you first) autobiographies of sports people?
Some may discuss pre match/event nerves and how they deal with them. Might give him a way of getting through the initial worry and help him perform to his potential?

He might also benefit from visualisation - a technique where you picture what sporting success would feel and look like, in the run up to the event. You'll probably find info on line or in a sports book. The idea that you picture the best possible outcome might help him feel more in control of the run up to the event.

Good luck

lljkk Wed 10-Apr-13 10:21:04

There was a web chat with a top athlete on here (swimmer?) and I asked a similar question of her. She reckoned that only practice & experience dispelled nerves, but sadly not working for you!

My first thought is to delve into the question of "What's the worst that can happen?" If they've thoroughly talked thru that and think they can live with the risk, yet still excessively nervous then they haven't actually answered the question of "What's the worst that can happen" and need to go back and figure it out again.

I wonder if it's partly his age because my ambitious 11yo DD can come out with hysterics about lots of things, too.

I have no idea how you deal with perfectionism, it was the kind of thing my parents sneered at so not allowed. Most top athletes are obsessive, though, Mark Cavendish tells very funny stories about his OCD tendencies.

kritur Wed 10-Apr-13 19:27:31

A sports psychologist may be able to help. I've no idea where you would find one but this seems to fit into their specialism.

Absurd Wed 17-Apr-13 13:46:49

Thanks for your replies. Some really useful ideas. I will look into NLP/sports psychologist - where to find them though?

I think DS needs work on himself iyswim, we have tried talking to him about 'what other people do' kind of thing and it hasn't worked so far, so I think a bit of brain re-training is needed smile

ApuskiMcClusky Wed 17-Apr-13 13:52:04

Have a look at for accredited cbt people in your area, and see if anyone has a sports specialism. Or go to the British psychological society (BPS) site, where they have a search for a psychologist section, and you can search for sports specialism.

Rockinhippy Thu 18-Apr-13 12:52:28

I have a perfectionist DD who sounds very similar to your DS, though with her its arts & drama she frets over to the point of hysterics, the state she gets into pre performance is unreal, she suffers with IBS & literally makes herself ill - yet will get up on stage & show no sign of fear at all, looks like she's loving it & always does well.

I do agree that in part its an age thing, my DD is now 10 & she is definitely worse than she was a few years ago.

I'm not sure I agree that with a perfectionist "what's the worst that can happen" chats do any good - to a perfectionist - the worst that can happen is to not be 100% perfect - end of (I was a perfectionist too) - with DD we use - is it going to kill you, will anyone die - no?? - so why get so worked up - this angle works a little, but not much.

What works more, as others have said is getting her to read others biographies & letting her see that pre show/match nerves are all quite normal & others hide it well too & finding her something "lucky" - ie something he had last time he performed well - DD decided it was lucky knickers grin & knowing she has them does calm her down - sort of like a big kids security blanket - though whatever it is you use, make sure you can always find it & buy more bigger sizes if its something they will grow out of - I have a bag of moshi monster pants in various sizes hidden awaygrin

I also use aromatherapy oils with her the night before - lavender & jasmine are good for nerves & DD also swears by "rescue remedy" whether its a placebo or not - its working for her & we've definitely seen an improvement smile

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