Special Feature: Thanksgiving Game Plan


Don't let Turkey Bowl defeats make holiday dinner a loser

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Wednesday, November, 14 By Emily Young
Staff writer

So your son, the quarterback, has sulked in his room, in the kitchen, and in the living room for nearly three hours because his team got trounced on the field in front of his hometown, Thanksgiving Day crowd.

How can you soothe those hurt feelings quickly, before the extended family sits down at the dinner table? How can you salvage the meal?

"I would be sure and give him space and not expect him to mingle with guests right away when he returns home," said Methuen native Paul Donahue, a child psychologist who practices in Scarsdale, N.Y.

"That said, 16- or 17-year-olds should understand that there are times when their own disappointments and frustrations, even very recent ones, have to be set aside," Donahue said. "We can't expect teens to always be pleasant and affable in these situations, but we can expect them to be present and respectful. If they prefer not to discuss the game, that is their prerogative and the adults should respect their privacy."

Child psychologist Ronnie Ginsberg of Family Service Inc., in Lawrence worries that hours of sulking could indicate a bigger problem.

"I would hope before any game during the season that the parents would be clear that games are fun, healthy competition. Winning is fun, but it's not the most important thing in life. If the child is devastated by a loss, he might be thinking it defines his worth to family members," Ginsberg said.

Ginsberg noted parents should help their child turn a loss into a learning experience, and remind him there are lots of other things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

"Hopefully, an adult, a parent, an older brother could talk to the boy and let him know that it's a real bummer that he lost, but that he now has a choice to make: He can either be miserable or he could have fun talking to his friends and family. The choice is his," Ginsberg said.

To help hurry up the hurt process, North Andover psychoanalyst D. Stephenson Bond offered up these talking points:

*Keep the game in perspective by looking at the bigger picture. "That's the thing about teenagers | especially when they play football | high school is their whole life. You should remind your child that high school is time in life, but not your whole life," Bond said.

**It's not only about the game, but about you as a person. "The great thing about sports is how much you grow as a person each game and throughout the whole season. Your growth as a person is more important than winning or losing a ball game," Bond said.

*Focus on personal performance. "(The Patriots) can win by 50 points and Bill Belichick might still be upset because a player lost the game against himself," Bond said. "Even if the team lost, if you played up to your ability, then you won the game against yourself. That's all you can ask from anyone of us to do."

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