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Parent’s Guide to Boxing: How Many Rounds Are You Willing to Go with Your Child?

A Parent’s Guide to Boxing

I have never actually watched a boxing match, so please excuse me if my terminology is a bit off in this article. And, to be clear, no punches were actually exchanged, this is all just part of the theme.

The other day my child had her first day of middle school (picture the excitement, the anxiety, the hormones running amuck), and we were in the ring…

Stressed out, anxious, and itching for a fight, she took the first swing – some acrid comment meant to see if she could get a reaction. Could she?

Being the skilled boxer I am, I considered my choices:

1. Hit back or block her punch. I could meet her comment with one of my own (hit back) or I could tell her not to talk to me like that (block). Either of those reactions would most likely lead to her swinging again, and probably harder than the first punch.

2. I could try to get her back in her corner. I could try to calm her down, however, you need to know your audience and I could tell that she was too hyped up.

3. I could get out of the ring. She could swing all she wants, but I couldn’t be in the match if I was out of the ring.

Which of these choices is most likely to end the match quickly?

I got out of the ring. I validated her, offered a little empathy, and stepped aside. “You seem to be a bit stressed, I’m sorry if you aren’t feeling happy, I’ll be in my office if you want to talk later.”

How Many Rounds Are You Willing to Go with Your Child?

Many of the clients I work with can relate well to this scenario of a boxing match. Parenting tween/teen children often makes you feel like a punching bag!

But, when the night ends up with a draw after too many rounds to count, you can almost always look back and identify that first blow when things could have gone differently.

Not escalating, not rising, not punching back. It’s not easy! Particularly when your opponent is a child you love, adore, and are easily hurt by!


Why Do Kids Act This Way?

Children are looking for parents to make an emotional response. They take out their own emotions on the people they feel safe with – usually mom, dad, or siblings. We can’t control how our children always behave.

But, we can control how we, as adults, react. And by not making that emotional response, we can model for our children a better way to engage and communicate.

Most of us won’t be champions throughout our lives. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it is a draw. But when it comes to boxing with our children, the true champion is the parent that never lets the match begin.

Click here for more content by Dr. Terri James!

Dr. Terri James
Terri James has a Bachelor of Science degree in Child and Family Studies from Cornell University and a Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University. Dr. James specializes in the assessment of children with learning issues and in helping children, school and parents plan appropriately for the child’s success.


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