I heard about a kid recently who broke his table tennis bat in anger after a loss. When his parents wouldn't get him a new one he stopped playing competitively.

My take on this met with some surprise–just get him another bat and send him back in there. If money is a problem take it from other privileges, for example trips to a particular eatery.

My reasoning is that competition, whilst having huge potential benefits, is tough and it needs time to learn to manage yourself within this kind of environment. Parents and coaches don't help if and when they stoke up the pressure with any kind of blame.






Speak your mind

11 Comments so far

  1. An Adult on May 1, 2018 8:22 am

    I disagree with Mr. Davies. Teaching a child that “actions have consequences” and “certain behaviors are unacceptable” is very important from a young age, and Mr. Davies’ approach reinforces bad behavior. Regardless whether you use a carrot or a stick to teach socialization, tolerating tantrums and bad sportsmenship leads to far greater problems in the future.

  2. Nigel Davies on May 2, 2018 5:58 am

    It has been well established that authoritarian parenting ensures behavioral compliance but at the cost of low self esteem and other emotional problems.

  3. Edward Lam on May 2, 2018 10:12 am

    I sympathize with Mr. Davies and the Kid. Punishment needs to be proportionate. For example, stopping the Kid playing in the next tournament might have been fair; or docking some pocket money. but missing the fact that anger was part of the will to win and killing all participation… Too much.

    John McEnroe is now a charming commentator.
    Roger Federer once said of himself that it took him to realise that his anger (which used to be uncontrollable) was holding him back to focus the energy in a positive direction.

  4. Edward Lam on May 2, 2018 10:18 am
  5. Edward Lam on May 3, 2018 5:25 am

    Was my comment/comparison to federer wrong?
    Not sure why my previous comments were censored.

  6. Edward Lam on May 3, 2018 5:25 am

    ah - apologies (was still awaiting moderation)

  7. Jean Piaget on May 5, 2018 7:47 am

    I’ve anecdotally observed that kids, whose parents are psychologists and so-called experts, are among the most screwed up as adolescents and adults. This subject is addressed in the book “Growing Up Jung: Coming of Age as the Son of Two Shrinks”. So I caution you about statements like “it has been well established” since there are vast numbers of confounding variables including whether the parents are divorced (and why); how many and what gender siblings; the child’s innate personality characteristics; and on and on. At the end of the day, there are good kids and bad kids. There are spoiled brats. There are over achievers and under achievers. And there is no user manual for parenting that actually works. I’ll just say that if your kid ever throws a tantrum in my house during a ping pong match, he will not be invited back. And that will be more about teaching my children a lesson than teaching yours.

  8. Nigel Davies on May 8, 2018 12:51 pm

    It sounds as if some psychologist(s) have upset you, but here meanwhile are some stats on the table that should make people think twice before congratulation themselves on their Stepfordesqueness:

  9. Nigel Davies on May 8, 2018 1:01 pm


  10. Jean Piaget on May 11, 2018 11:46 pm


    I think you are a decent chess player and a nice chap. But you are a very insecure parent or you wouldn’t be soliciting advice from total strangers which you then challenge when you don’t like what you hear.

    My conclusion is your kid is misbehaving and rather than setting boundaries, you are googling justifications for not intervening. I further speculate that you are divorced and you fear that if you set boundaries, your child will rather spend time with your ex-wife than with you. This is classic. And it’s very sad.

    But what the heck do I know? All I can say is, despite my so-called authoritarian parenting, my kids are doing great by any objective standard.

    So go read your psycho babble that justifies the fact that your kid is behaving like a brat and that’s ok … and we’ll how that works out for him…in 5, 10 and 15 years….And if things turn out poorly, you’ll be able to blame the so-called experts rather than yourself for ignoring common sense….

    Check mate.

  11. Nigel Davies on May 14, 2018 3:05 pm


    Some things for your information: When I posted this it was genuinely about some other kid, not my own son. Despite my liberal attitudes towards behavior my son is a star at school for both concentration and behavior, and is probably better in several fields that you will be in any. Apart from that clarification I have no interest in continuing our conversation, so the very best of luck to you. One thing though, it would be helpful for your personal development if you used a real name rather than hide your faux respectability behind anonymity.


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