Disobedience? No. It’s TEMPERAMENT, yo!

“I don’t like hockey.”

Four small words that could make a Canadian parent cry.

Today I want to tell you about how my family’s ice hockey experience taught me a valuable lesson about parenting. Our hockey journey brought to life how a sensitive temperament can be mistaken for a child being “difficult” or “hard to please” and how loving parents can miss opportunities to accept and understand our little superstars.

My boy never showed much interest in ice hockey – in fact he showed the opposite: random excuses to skip practices and games; a lethargic pace while on the ice yet speed-skating to the bench at shift’s end; visiting the bathroom 3 times during a practice or game; wishing for “snow day” cancellations; asking repeatedly if the season was almost over – you’d think I would have caught on.


I had tried the usual, vague life lessons – clearly lost on my little one. They seemed so good, like: “Life isn’t about doing what you like; it’s liking what you do” and my personal fave, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” They simply were not working. In moments of outright refusal to don his equipment, I even tried open-ended questions like, “Honey, what don’t you like about hockey? How can I make it better for you?” His rolling eyeballs and continued refusals to gear up looked a lot like defiance. Clearly I was asking the wrong questions. Clearly I forgot about temperament.

Then it hit me – something I say to parents every day: “Know your kid.” Shame on me. I wasn’t walking the talk. I know his temperament. I know he, like his mom, is sensitive to loud or repetitive sounds, bright lights, extreme heat, confined spaces, food and fabric textures, tags and seams inside clothing (that’s why we wear socks inside-out) and a slew of other things. Of course…the hockey equipment: the confinement of it; the heat inside it; the pressure points here and there where the pads and skates dig into skin (even a little bit) – this must be it! It’s the equipment, not the activity that annoys him! I needed to make sure by asking the right questions without leading him to what I thought was the answer.

“Honey – do you want to play hockey this season?”

“No! Please Mom – I don’t like hockey! Pleeeeease, no! I’ll play something else – anything else!”

“Okay, we won’t sign you up. If you don’t like it, we’re not going to force you.”

He looked up at me, his expression one of relief and elation – he jumped up, threw his arms around me and yelled,


“Just wondering though honey, why do you like ball hockey but not ice hockey?”

“I hate the pads – they dig into me! And the skates hurt my feet! And that thing around my neck! Uggghh! So…can we sell them on Kijiji and buy LEGOs?”

LOL! Mystery solved. Turns out I know my kid after all. Anyone know of a local ball hockey league? 🙂

What mysteries have you tackled lately? Let us know!

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this blogger:

Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her?  Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)

This entry was posted in Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Teens and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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