“A new hotshot ballplayer just joined the 11U team that my son has been on for two years. He’s cocky and arrogant and makes snide comments about my son being slow and makes fun of him any time he makes an error. My kid isn’t the best one on the team but he’s dependable and consistent. The new player’s remarks really bother him. Since he’s a whole head taller than the bully, I’ve told him to punch the kid next time he says something. My wife says “no, let the coach handle it.” I’ve always thought kids should settle their own battles, but promoting fighting in the dugout might not make me look like ‘parent of the year.'”–Fed Up Dad
Violence is never the answer. However, I do agree that the boys should have the opportunity to handle it themselves first. I would encourage your son to address the bully in a more diplomatic way than a punch. If your son isn’t comfortable doing that… you need to figure out why. If his reasons are valid, then consider asking the coach for help and support or even contacting the bully’s parents directly. If his reason’s aren’t valid, then help your son build the confidence needed to take care of it. But by no means should this be allowed to continue. It is cancerous to the team and unfair to your son. —Danielle Wheeler, baseball mom, Glen Allen, VA
Where is the coach, and why is he letting this happen? Any coach worth his salt knows that you cannot have one player chastising another player, especially not on the field. This is a TEAM sport, for crying out loud. Everybody makes mistakes and errors, and a coach must teach players discipline not to yell out and openly criticize another player. The coach himself needs this discipline. When the boys get older, natural leaders will rise to help run the team, and quite often they will take a player aside when there is a performance issue on the field. That is acceptable and necessary. But this is completely different than what you describe. And at 11U, it is all on the coach to handle this. As a parent, it is your job to make sure the coach aware of the situation, and ask him to put a stop to the bullying.–Tony Midea, baseball dad, veteran coach and author of the book, Navigating Travel Baseball-7U to 14U
I answer this as a MOM – Punch him! The same thing happened to my son when he was on an 11U team (what’s up with hostile 11 year olds?) and we finally walked over to the dugout and said out loud ” Son, if he does that again you have our permission to punch him in the face.” It stopped immediately. Sincerely – fellow parent of the year! :-)–Stephanie Boarman, baseball mom, Chesterfield, VA
While we think coaches see/hear everything….reality is they don’t. The head coach is focused on the game. And at 11U, there shouldn’t need to be a dugout parent. The head coach may not know this is going on. If that is the case, as parents mention it to the coach and ask him to keep an ear out so he can hear it and address it. I would expect him to make an example of this player. So what if he’s a hotshot and he doesn’t like it or his parents don’t like it! Baseball is a very disciplined sport and you are building ball players as well as good charactered young men. If they don’t like the head coach addressing this kind of issue, then maybe they are on the wrong team. One player does not make a team. Sit him out if he continues, make him run at practice, make him apologize to the entire team about his behavior, not just the one player. Because, honestly, if that is happening in the dugout, it is a distraction to everyone. If you don’t want the coach addressing your kid about his behavior, then handle your kid! As for punching him the next time he does it….well I wouldn’t say that’s the best way to handle the situation. Now if that hot shot lays a hand on your kid, well then its fair game. Good luck…..Lisa SantaRita, baseball mom, Houston, TX
Usually when a child asks for help in a bullying situation, it’s a signal that they aren’t able to solve the problem themselves and need your help to resolve it. That may mean coaching him on how to interact with the bully, or getting the bully’s parents and the coach involved. I suspect that this isn’t the first time this player has bullied his fellow players but it definitely needs to stop before it erodes the confidence of the team and the individual players. He is trying to elevate himself to be above everyone on the team by undermining them in any way he can with his negativity, and the inaction of the coach and parents just encourages the bullying behavior.
There is a difference between “boys will be boys” and bullying. And sometimes it takes the adults to step in and diffuse the situation before it gets worse. Most of the time, bullies will stop the behavior when they are confronted. I would hate to see your son start dreading playing baseball because of one member of the team. Step in now, and hopefully it will resolve quickly. Good luck! —Liz Blanks, baseball mom, VA
If you’re still reading, here’s the background story on why Alton said that the boy should pick a fight with the bully. While many of you will undoubtedly disagree with this approach, I wholeheartedly believe that kids need to stand up for themselves. And sometimes picking a fight with a bully is a darn good way to take care of things.
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