Lack of confidence

‘Wow, you’ve done 50 questions in FIFTY FOUR SECONDS?!’

‘Well, the problem is, Mum, I know the answers quicker than I can write them down.’

He’d done 50 questions in 54 seconds and he thought it wasn’t good enough. He thought he needed to make an excuse why it wasn’t better. But I thought it was amazing.

Something has happened to my brilliant, talented younger son lately. He’s lost some confidence. I’m not sure quite when it happened, but it’s sad to see. He has got so much going for him – so much ability, so much talent and he’s such a lovely boy on top of it all, yet he’s not quite the boy he once was.

It’s most noticeable in rugby. My boy is a very good rugby player, there is no doubt. But success at their team has bred success. A team that was on the brink of folding just over a year ago due to lack of players has grown massively recently. It’s now full of confident, competitive private school boys. Boys who play rugby at school as well as at the weekend. And boys who are there with their school friends. Boys who, in short, don’t feel the need to pass the ball out to the winger they don’t know.

And that poor winger will call for the ball, but his calls will fall on deaf ears. They would rather pass the ball inwards than outwards. Inwards and into the thick of the opposition rather than outwards into space. If my boy got that ball he would run with it and score a try. We’ve seen it happen many times. But those new boys have never seen it, because my son never gets the ball. They’re such a strong team that even passing the ball right into the centre of the pitch, surrounded by the opposition, won’t stop them scoring. So why bother using the wing?

And my son comes off the pitch sadly because he hasn’t touched the ball. Again.

But you were on the pitch! At least you got picked to play. You were in the right place! They could have passed to you. You could have scored.

But it’s not really enough, is it? The truth is, the score would have been the same if there had been nobody on the wing at all. As the game progresses, I can see his confidence leaving his body. His head sinks a little lower, he appears more and more detached from the team. This isn’t the under 8’s coach’s player of the season. This isn’t the saviour of the school rugby team. This is someone we barely recognise. A boy who has somehow lost his confidence and is struggling to get it back.

He’s still a fantastic footballer for his club team, but school football has done nothing for his confidence at all. He has been put on the left wing, the one position he has never played in before. He was dropped from the team for several games and, on his return, he was bossed around by a cocky year 5. The year 5 (not the goalie) insisted on taking the goal kicks and did them really badly. My son has taken goal kicks in the past and they’re good – accurate and travel a long way. Why didn’t he take them? And why did the year 5 go forward instead of him? Why didn’t he ask to change positions in half time like the other players?

Apparently the year 5 was the captain. (But why? Surely being captain is the right of a year 6?) My son didn’t feel he could question him because he was the captain. He didn’t feel he could ask to change position at half time because they weren’t supposed to (despite the fact that the rest of them ask anyway and sometimes get listened to). So he let himself get walked all over by everyone and came home from the football match feeling thoroughly miserable.

I don’t know why he won’t stand up for himself. When you’re in year 6 and the head boy, there’s no better time for standing up for yourself and having teachers and other pupils listen to you. But he won’t do it.

I’m not sure what has happened to my boy, but I really hope we get our confident son back soon.

Author: Sarah Mummy

Share This Post On


  1. Oh I really feel for him! And for you watching him deflate. Sounds like some of those kids need their heads knocking together or even better a good coach who can guide them. Being a really nice kid seemingly doesn’t get you far in sport, when most of the others are already good mates. Can he get to know and befriend them a little off the field perhaps? x

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much! I’m not sure if the coach (who is a very good coach) has noticed that they’re not passing to him. I’m not sure if I should have a word. At the moment I think he feels making friends with them is too hard 🙁 He doesn’t dislike them and they don’t dislike him, but they don’t seem to have any time for him. x

      Post a Reply
  2. Oh this makes me so sad for you and for him. I hope he regains his confidence somehow. xx

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, me too! And I don’t want him to give up the sport, but nor do I want him unhappy. Apparently the grammar school he’s going to is really good at instilling confidence in kids, so my fingers are crossed! x

      Post a Reply
  3. Ah this is a sad read, sorry to hear that. Sounds to me like he has every reason to feel a bit despondent. Maybe you could chat to him about whether he would like to give up rugby, or is that not an option? Could you speak to the coach about training the other boys to use him more? Couldn’t they practise passing to him in training sessions? Confidence is everything in these team sports isn’t it? My boy had zero confidence when he first started football but it has grown more and more throughout the year. I think the other players and their team spirit (or lack of) makes a huge difference. If it’s knocking him, perhaps drop it for a while? Would be a shame to ruin everything else for him too 🙁

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much. Giving up would be an option if he really wanted to, although we don’t like to encourage quitting! There used to be such a good team spirit when they were a tiny team, but now it feels like every man for himself (and his best friends), which is a shame. Everything will change next season anyway, when he goes to grammar school. It might be that he does school sport instead of club sports at weekends then.

      Post a Reply
  4. Hello there, really sorry to hear that, and hope it comes back soon. I really feel for him, and you, and hope it resolves itself sooner rather than later x

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much, Lystra. I do too! Although sadly he had another knock to his confidence at school football yesterday 🙁 x

      Post a Reply
  5. Sarah, that must be tough for him and hard for you to watch. As a natural sports player, he’s bound to bounce back, but I hope it’s sooner rather than later. Whatever he needs to do, it should be something he decides (with your help). He’ll learn a lot from that – overcoming adversity and all those clichéd but accurate lessons.


    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much. I’m really hoping he gets his confidence back soon. It will only take one or two tries in rugby I’m sure. Good point about it being his own decision – my husband is all for stopping him playing rugby, but my son hasn’t said he wants to do that.

      Post a Reply
  6. Oh no that is so sad. Sport can have that effect and I have seen it with mine. L had lost all of his confidence at football and had decided to give up playing for his team at the beginning of the season. He missed it but said that the other boys didn’t like him and would never pass, it is so hard because as a parent you want to make it better, you want to make those kids respect and like your child and you can’t do anything. L went back after a couple of weeks and some new players joined who he gets on well with and it has made such a huge difference to him and his confidence and football is now his favourite thing. Maybe once your son gets to know a few of the boys a bit better, it will get easier. Can you suggest to the coach that they have a social event to get everyone to know each other?

    Post a Reply
    • So pleased to hear that things turned around for L at football. I know how easily things can turn round. If my son scores a couple of tries on Sunday, everything will be back to normal! A social event sounds like a really good idea.

      Post a Reply
  7. Oh Sarah, this is so hard to read, which means it must be so much harder to witness in your own son. I find parenting gets harder and harder the older my kids are, I know how tough the world can be and how mean people can be, and I know I can’t protect my daughters from this which makes me very sad. I hope somehow your son regains his confidence x

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much. He took another big knock this week with school football this week, but I think it’s all done now, thank goodness. I think he just needs to score a couple of tries to bounce back and I really hope it happens soon.
      My feeling is it’s probably harder for girls growing up, so I’m quite grateful I’ve got a couple of boys to practise on first!

      Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: