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I don't have any answers, but that's really hard and totally understandable. Poor kid. 

And poor mom, working so hard to give him a sense of normality and then having it backfire.  Hugs.

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Ugh. Poor kid. 

The other child is just repeating what he's heard, I guess. Not that it makes a difference. I don't know why ppl think that, but all kids pick up on what's said in the home, good and bad.

I think...is this something ds can work on in counselling? It sounds like his anxiety is huge (the freeze response), and he probably needs extra support in engaging with these anxiety provoking settings. CBT? 

Also, could you guys role play some responses for when he's challenged like this by other kids? You can always give him a blame Mom 'out'...or maybe he'd be more comfortable with a short, non-committal  phrase he can answer with. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to weed out the kids repeating nonsense about sheeple.

Really, CBT. And go back to outdoor soccer next time. Avoidance won't help in the long term (easier said than done, I know). 

 

 

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I think some adults who espouse those beliefs feel judged by those who take precautions (even when they aren't being judged) and thus hit out pre-emptively. Kids pick up what is said.

I've see this with homeschooling, actually. Pre-covid, upon meeting a family who homeschooled, the adult feels like the homeschoolers are looking down at them & bashes what they think homeschooling is. Kids then parrot it.

I have no advice to give. I wish your family & your youngest didn't have this to deal with.

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If it was pre-Covid, or not covid-related, what would your advice have been to him? If the other child had been repeating things he’d heard at home about ethnicity (and one end) or people who like Lego or reading (at the other end)? Not to trivialize his/your experiences, but rather to reframe it as a stupid thing a kid said. And to have that discussion about how there will be more kids who’ve heard the same things, and different ways to deal with it. 

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35 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

He and his brother are in counseling, and the practitioner is skilled in CBT.  Most of the time, he doesn't present as anxious, even with some very anxiety provoking circumstances.  But then every once in a while things like this pop up.  

Part of the problem is that he's not really seeing other kids that often to practice this with.  He plays with his brother, his cousins, and a few close neighbors, all kids who are super familiar and also aren't going to do something like this.  His own soccer team seems to have an exceptionally nice group of kids, so this doesn't come up there.  I agree that he needs to go back, although even if we choose to take this team's offer, he won't play with them regularly until the summer or fall.  

It's really tough. 

A hard adjustment for kids generally; an even harder one when is compounded by grief/trauma. 

I'd run it by the counsellor. 

Sorry it happened. We just want our kids to catch a break sometimes!

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I’m really, really sorry.

I’m not looking to defend parents of kids who are talking the way that one was, but I’ll say that many of us are likely unaware of the extent of extremes our kids are expressing. This past year, I’ve found my 10 and 13yos taking out the trash with masks on. There is nearly 0 chance of any person coming within 6 *yards of them, never mind feet. The minuscule chance might come if they were suffering a medical emergency and a neighbor wanted to help, or if they were being kidnapped. That’s about it.  *I wouldn’t wear a mask to take out the trash, but they’ve internalized “off our property” to include the curb. Though I casually brought it up, I haven’t really done anything to push a softer perspective on them because it doesn’t feel necessary to me. It’s probably time I start doing that, given we’ll probably be seeing a rise in unmasked people.

Anyway, that’s not helpful to the situation, but maybe to the concept of why young kids are spouting junk.  I can’t say with any certainty what my kids may or may not say to someone else on this topic.  Given how I vent at home, it’s definitely not impossible that they would say something another person might find offensive or disturbing, because I haven’t really censored myself much. Someone on the other side could hypothetically write the same thing about me and my kid scaring another kid with the dangers of COVID.

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I would tell him the other kid is misinformed by his parents. I’d tell him the other kid was being a jerk. I’d buy him a good mask that protects him (if he doesn’t have one) and tell him he’s safe even if people act ridiculous. And I’d role play this scenario with him and find some things he could say with him, because it WILL happen again.

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My daughter (11) has anxiety and did something similar twice - once, also at soccer and once, at a second co-op we were going to try. The co-op president assured me they wore masks, distanced, followed all the precautions. We got there and it was a joke. Some kids wore masks, but as chinstraps. One teacher took her mask off to talk to us. Another didn’t even have one. Kids were seated three to a table, mostly unmasked. She ran out and hid in the car, panicked. We have another child who is at high-risk, and she didn’t want to get him sick. 😞

It’s now been several months since both of those incidents. We didn’t join the co-op and she’s back at a different soccer program, where everyone wears masks, even the parents watching on the sidelines. Mask compliance in our area is generally high, except in certain demographics. She’s now been to church, youth group, and other situations where masks are strictly required. But yesterday, at our first co-op’s end of the year party, she had a conversation with another kid that was very similar to what your son heard, She didn’t panic or freeze this time but we were able to discuss it rationally afterwards.

I know our circumstances aren’t the same, and that you have other extenuating and difficult circumstances, but what helped in our situation was time. 

Edited by Gobblygook
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21 minutes ago, Carrie12345 said:

I’m really, really sorry.

I’m not looking to defend parents of kids who are talking the way that one was, but I’ll say that many of us are likely unaware of the extent of extremes our kids are expressing. This past year, I’ve found my 10 and 13yos taking out the trash with masks on. There is nearly 0 chance of any person coming within 6 *yards of them, never mind feet. The minuscule chance might come if they were suffering a medical emergency and a neighbor wanted to help, or if they were being kidnapped. That’s about it.  *I wouldn’t wear a mask to take out the trash, but they’ve internalized “off our property” to include the curb. Though I casually brought it up, I haven’t really done anything to push a softer perspective on them because it doesn’t feel necessary to me. It’s probably time I start doing that, given we’ll probably be seeing a rise in unmasked people.

Anyway, that’s not helpful to the situation, but maybe to the concept of why young kids are spouting junk.  I can’t say with any certainty what my kids may or may not say to someone else on this topic.  Given how I vent at home, it’s definitely not impossible that they would say something another person might find offensive or disturbing, because I haven’t really censored myself much. Someone on the other side could hypothetically write the same thing about me and my kid scaring another kid with the dangers of COVID.

Yeah, I had to explicitly tell my kids they couldn't refer to people as "plague rats" and they definitely didn't hear that from me or their dad.    Kids tend to be very black and white thinkers and often aren't great with nuance.  

I'd probably talk to the coach and make sure they really are being careful with masks during all official meet-ups - games, practices, etc. - among parents, spectators, coaches, other players.   I may or may not mention that a comment was made without mentioning names, just as a lead up - "this was said, I just want to double check what we can expect to see as things move forward".  Then if you feel comfortable that they really are going to be fully masking, mention it to his counselor (I'd probably do that either way) and see what they suggest. 

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I’ve been thinking about this. I’m not sure it’s anxiety so much as a sign he has good judgment. Especially if he’s not anxious in other areas.

I mean if he stays he’s either going to have to face peer pressure to not mask or he’ll have to tell everyone why he breaks into tears every time someone pressures him not to. I’m sure that’s the last thing he wants.  Not dealing with the peer pressure so he doesn’t have to overshare with a bunch of boys he doesn’t know well yet is totally understandable.   I bet he doesn’t want to be *that kid* that other kids are tiptoeing around. He just wants to play ball with kids who mask without complaining. 

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39 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

I would tell him the other kid is misinformed by his parents. I’d tell him the other kid was being a jerk. I’d buy him a good mask that protects him (if he doesn’t have one) and tell him he’s safe even if people act ridiculous. And I’d role play this scenario with him and find some things he could say with him, because it WILL happen again.

Yes, and also remind him that that kid was just one of many on the team, and if he wasn't being a bully about masks, he'd probably be being a bully about something else. Maybe give your son a comeback line if that ever happens again - even something like, "My mom says I need to do it." My mom always let me use her as an excuse, even if I really secretly agreed with her rule 🙂

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Personally I think it's time to teach your son how to pass the bean dip.  This is just one of many things people disagree on, and some people are just gonna be obnoxious, regardless of the topic.

I also think it's dangerous to play soccer (or other vigorous sport) in a mask.  If I didn't believe in playing such a sport unmasked, I would not put my kid in it.

Outdoor warm-weather kid sports are pretty safe Covid-wise (unmasked).  If it doesn't meet your requirements due to, for example, a very at-risk person at home who can't be vaccinated, then I'd look for another activity that you consider safe enough.

ETA:  I've never used name-calling ("sheeple" etc.) at home, but my kids do know my opinions about when masking doesn't make sense.  Based on past experience, I highly doubt that they would talk like the kid in the OP, but they might express an opinion in a more polite way, and I don't think that's terrible.  People are going to have different opinions, and kids need to learn to be OK with that.

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If it’s masked soccer, I would talk  with the coach to see if he can encourage support of masks among the kids and for the kids to support each other because they are a team.

and I would also tell my son to reply, my parents want me to mask and I am respecting them. 

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Would your son try something like tennis?  There’s more natural distance in that.  We have found with sports teams it seems to take a while for the kids to be accepted and sometimes the other kids are jerks in the meantime (and I’m sure there’s times my kids are as well although we’ve tried to teach them to be kind).  

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I'm sorry. My own 17yo feels like that (like the other kid). He is surrounded by that attitude at school, church, and pretty much everywhere he goes but at home, so we are "dumb" and everybody else has it right. My own courage has faltered a bit at times, and I'm old.

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I am so sorry this happened to your son. I teared up reading this. Poor kid. Awful!

The answer to your question is that the other child learned the attitude and behavior from his parents, and the parents like anyone else who engages in this, berate others to make themselves feel better about their own, irresponsible choices. Yes. I said it. Irresponsible. They made a choice they know is wrong, irresponsible, and in some areas illegal, and then get uncomfortable with people obeying the protocols because it reminds them that they are not, and might be viewed with disdain. It is bullying behavior.

I would tell the coach, and ask him/her if there is another precaution minded family on the team with whom you could try to foster a relationship so your son has someone to chat with who won't make him feel like crap. Or see about tennis or golf maybe? Those are just so naturally distanced anyway. Around here golf seems to be the go-to among families who are still cautious. Also some have formed kayaking and hiking clubs with other like minded families so the kids have really fun outdoor things to do with other kids while taking reasonable precautions. The hiking club formed by one of the local scout moms is fantastic. Masks required, wonderful nature hiking, and socially distanced breaks for removing masks to drink from their water bottles.

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1 hour ago, SKL said:

 

Outdoor warm-weather kid sports are pretty safe Covid-wise (unmasked).  If it doesn't meet your requirements due to, for example, a very at-risk person at home who can't be vaccinated, then I'd look for another activity that you consider safe enough.

 

But she said it IS masked soccer. Sounds like the safety precautions for the team itself ARE what she's comfortable with and that it's this other kid who should be finding another activity if he has a problem with them.

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Just now, kokotg said:

But she said it IS masked soccer. Sounds like the safety precautions for the team itself ARE what she's comfortable with and that it's this other kid who should be finding another activity if he has a problem with them.

Yes, I saw that, and I personally believe it's unsafe to play soccer in a mask.  I was saying what I would do.

I can totally understand why some families on the team would think it is unhealthy as well as unnecessary to wear a mask while playing an active outdoor summer sport.  Not sure why they signed up for masked soccer in the first place, but maybe they were expecting the mask mandate to end soon.

They shouldn't call names at home and should teach their kids how to be kind to people with different beliefs, cultures, etc.

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I also would give him permission to say "My brother just died. I don't want anyone else to die, so back off!" Sometimes, the only way to get space for trauma is to make people aware that they are triggering your trauma-and getting justifiably angry is better than going into an anxiety or PTSD spiral. 

 

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5 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

He didn't call my kid names for playing soccer in a mask.  He called my kid names for walking from the field to my car in a mask.  

Right, but he's roughly 10yo and unlikely to really understand the difference.  Either way, his words were nasty and wrong.

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Oh, it's so tough parenting in this covid era. *hugs for your son*. I've had many conversations with my kids this past year about how to deal with people of all ages that act in ways we disagree with, including their same-age acquaintances and even family members who are rude to us about continuing to wear masks. 

Our fundamental responses had to be based on the following:

  1. Kids must always speak respectfully to others
  2. We can not tell other adults what to do (this isn't your situation it was our).
  3. Kids can (respectfully) tell other kids what they need to protect their own boundaries.

That last one is to empower your son that he is allowed to stand up for himself. He can tell the other kid that he and his family firmly believe in wearing masks. He can ask the other kid to give him extra space if he's going to insist on not wearing a mask. He can tell the kid to knock off the name-calling.

But, if your kid is like mine, he might really resist "conflict," in which you just need to hug him and remind him that the world isn't fair and people will still act selfishly. Good luck.

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6 hours ago, Katy said:

I’ve been thinking about this. I’m not sure it’s anxiety so much as a sign he has good judgment. Especially if he’s not anxious in other areas.

I mean if he stays he’s either going to have to face peer pressure to not mask or he’ll have to tell everyone why he breaks into tears every time someone pressures him not to. I’m sure that’s the last thing he wants.  Not dealing with the peer pressure so he doesn’t have to overshare with a bunch of boys he doesn’t know well yet is totally understandable.   I bet he doesn’t want to be *that kid* that other kids are tiptoeing around. He just wants to play ball with kids who mask without complaining. 

I think so too. And that might not be possible, and he might just need some time process it. 

3 hours ago, BaseballandHockey said:

He didn't call my kid names for playing soccer in a mask.  He called my kid names for walking from the field to my car in a mask.  

The mask is part of the uniform for playing soccer per county rules. I think most kids keep their uniforms on as they move toward their cars. That doesn't make them stupid. I realize that people don't think of the mask as part of the uniform because they are being political, but it is. Some kids probably pull their cleats and shin guards off and put on regular shoes, but most walk to the car in them. Same for hats if it's baseball, etc. The mask is part of his protective equipment, such as shin guards. 

Even if your son had permission and felt safe taking it off to walk to the car, plenty of people leave theirs on for a while without thinking of it. I do it sometimes. I have Rx sunglasses that are not super dark. On bright, sunny days, I forget I have them on and walk into the store with them on. I have a choice to keep wearing them and look silly or to put them on my head and hope no one thinks I'm rude if I don't know who they are. 

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4 hours ago, Faith-manor said:

I am so sorry this happened to your son. I teared up reading this. Poor kid. Awful!

The answer to your question is that the other child learned the attitude and behavior from his parents, and the parents like anyone else who engages in this, berate others to make themselves feel better about their own, irresponsible choices. Yes. I said it. Irresponsible. They made a choice they know is wrong, irresponsible, and in some areas illegal, and then get uncomfortable with people obeying the protocols because it reminds them that they are not, and might be viewed with disdain. It is bullying behavior.

I would tell the coach, and ask him/her if there is another precaution minded family on the team with whom you could try to foster a relationship so your son has someone to chat with who won't make him feel like crap. Or see about tennis or golf maybe? Those are just so naturally distanced anyway. Around here golf seems to be the go-to among families who are still cautious. Also some have formed kayaking and hiking clubs with other like minded families so the kids have really fun outdoor things to do with other kids while taking reasonable precautions. The hiking club formed by one of the local scout moms is fantastic. Masks required, wonderful nature hiking, and socially distanced breaks for removing masks to drink from their water bottles.

Just a little heads up. I used to believe along the lines of the first sentence in your second paragraph. Until we had our oldest child. Even as a preschooler, he would express opinions that floored me. I would occasionally get looked at askance by other parents for my child's original thoughts. Also, see my 17yo's attitudes above. So it isn't always modeled by the parents. Sometimes the parents are trying to figure out where the thoughts are coming from, and how to influence the child's thoughts more effectively. I do agree that "often" the attitudes come from the parents. But not always.

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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

Honestly, until my kids are playing their sports without a mask, they'll be wearing them all the way to the car.  That has little do with covid and everything to do with the number of replacement shin guards I've paid for over the years.   I can guarantee that if my kid starts taking off his mask after practice they'll disappear.  

If he is able to go back, this might be a good way to defuse the situation--"My mom says I have to wear my mask to the car so I don't lose it like the last three pairs of shin guards."

I hope something smooths over for him. 

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11 minutes ago, kbutton said:

If he is able to go back, this might be a good way to defuse the situation--"My mom says I have to wear my mask to the car so I don't lose it like the last three pairs of shin guards."

I hope something smooths over for him. 

This. 👆 I have given my kids express permission to throw me under the bus if they need a reason to not buckle to peer pressure. I hope they don't feel that they have to feel the need to defend their decisions to anyone but they are allowed to "blame" me when necessary; such as obeying mask mandates, getting out of awkward or dangerous situations, etc.

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I'm sorry that your son was put in an uncomfortable situation and couldn't find a good way to respond back.  When I read this post, as well as others from you,  I have felt so sorry for the hurt that your family has gone through the last year.  I am concerned that Covid is acting like a big Boogeyman to him- that inside he is terrified he will bring it home and kill someone- and its paralyzing him with fear.  When someone doesn't seem as worried about it, he wants to completely walk away from the entire team- that isn't a reasonable reaction, it sounds more like a trauma reaction (which is understandable).  I think that your family should try to switch away from talking about Covid (and yes, i know how bad it can be), to talking more about the importance of moving on, being involved,  having fun.  He needs a balance and he needs to know he can be a normal kid, without all this guilt and fear.  

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5 minutes ago, BusyMom5 said:

When someone doesn't seem as worried about it, he wants to completely walk away from the entire team- that isn't a reasonable reaction, it sounds more like a trauma reaction (which is understandable). 

No. When someone gives him a lecture about being a stupid sheep because he wears a mask, he doesn't want to play on the team anymore. That's pretty different than what you're saying. 

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The long and short of it is that our society strives to make everything an us vs. them issue. 
Teach your kids to not be that kid. Explain to him the term “sheep” wasn’t something that child thought up - it was taught to him by an adult who refuses to realize people are just people. It’s just so rough at ten. I willing put pressure on him to teach the other kiddo, but do brainstorm some answers for him - kind and easy to remember. 
 

I’m sorry. 

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The thing is, there's no point focusing on the other kid. Who, presumably, is also ten or thereabouts, and parroting stuff he's heard, trying to be the big man to the new guy. 

Because these type of interactions are a dime a dozen for kids. 

As tough as it is, it's about learning skills to bat the nonsense back, both verbally and psychologically. Because our own reactions are the only thing we control. 

It would be nice if we could shape the world so that sheeple boy was off the team, or so that the coach tells everyone they have to mask until they get into their own cars, or in other ways make the problem go away.

Unfortunately, we can't, and so the only solution is to skill our kids to manage difficult situations. It's not fair. Not at all! But it is life...and CBT is the only tool I know off that can help a grieving kid get inside his own thoughts and reframe, rebuild. 

The only outer world action I can see here is a chat to the coach; hopefully he will remind all players about supporting team players on and off the field, and respecting mask choices off the field. 

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The coach sounds like a good guy. 

I think it's normal for kids to dislike/be afraid of one part of an activity, and then want to dismiss the whole thing - despite there being parts that they do enjoy. 

I hope your son can give this a try, if he wants to. He could always try it for a month and then quit if it truly was a bad fit, right?

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Just now, BaseballandHockey said:

It may be.  It wasn't, pre-pandemic, normal for him.  So, I'm concerned about the change I'm seeing. 

No, it would be a 3 season commitment.  Once we paid for a year, and the team turned away other kids to give him the spot, he'd need to play.  

Ugh. That's a lot of pressure on him, to have to decide for the whole year. 

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Just now, BaseballandHockey said:

I feel like we're pushing the limits of what we can ask for.  He went to practice last week, and my BIL was supposed to go watch him, but then we had an emergency and his wife took DS.  Then he went to their GK practice, and the team let DS practice with their regular team again so that BIL could see.  They're now offering to let him come a third time. 

Yeah, I see how they'll eventually run out of patience with indecision 😕 . And this is definitely the activity he wants to do? Because something where it's easier to back out might be simpler for now. 

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50 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

Yes, he has wanted this for a long time, and has put a lot of effort into getting ready for the try out.  He wanted to play soccer at this level before the pandemic, but we told him that he to pick one select sport, and he picked hockey.  Now that hockey isn't an option, he's choosing this.

There are other teams, so saying no to this doesn't mean he can't play soccer, but this is one that has a lot of advantages.  

So what would happen if he DID pull out mid-season for some reason? Would you be in people's bad graces forever? Would it make it hard for him to play soccer again? 

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