A tween girl sitting cross-legged on the floor looking sad and along while other kids are in the background playing.

How to Deal With Being the Last One Picked

Being the last one picked for the team can be stressful for parents and children, but building up confidence in children helps limit the effect it has on teenagers.


Do you remember a time when you were a teenager at school and the time came for the sports captains to pick who they wanted to play on their team? 


Were you the first to be chosen, or the last? 


Do you remember feelings of relief and pleasure as you were first to be chosen or the feelings of disappointment and probably anger when you were the last one picked? 


Did you find over the years that you got picked at a different point depending on what the activity was? 

The last one picked

It was hard for us, it’s hard for them 

We know how hard it was for us and we know it breaks your heart to see your child down cast and deflated when they don’t get picked for the team or don’t achieve a goal that is set for them. 


We asked Barbara Whiting-Smith, a Parent Support Adviser, to offer some advice on how you can start to build up your child’s resilience so that when they hit those difficult teen years they are prepared and confident. 


Passionate about helping parents manage their own unique situation, Barbara works in partnership with families dealing with difficult issues and helps find individual solutions. 


As parents we cannot control the challenges our children will have to face. However we can help them to be so secure in who they are that they will be prepared when they face conflicting situations. Teens that are self-confident and have high levels of self-esteem will be more resilient facing conflict than others. 


In February 2012, Wimbledon High School agreed to hold a ‘failure week’ to include talks and discussion groups to enable the students to learn ‘how to fail well, how to get over it and how to cope with it’. 


One of the aims was to develop resilience and robustness in the face of conflict in the students. The details can be seen on their website. In a discussion on live radio, the Head Teacher was interested to learn that the majority of the parents were supportive. 

How do parents develop certain qualities in their children?

It has been suggested that there are 3 building blocks our children need for sound mental health which can help them to be resilient in times of conflict, and this support and guidance needs to begin at home. 


Teens need to be secure in the knowledge that they are loved and accepted by their parents whatever they say or do. 


We all need to know that we matter to someone for who we are, not for what we do. This is especially important for the developing teenager. 


From security and significance comes self-worth, so that they can feel good about themselves. 


Whether the teenager is ‘the last one picked’, grades are not achieved, or academic expectations are not met, there are likely to be feelings of disappointment, sadness and anger as they grow up. 


Parents need to help the teen acknowledge and express their strong feelings which will help them to keep things in perspective. When teens can share with their parents in this way, they feel supported and building their confidence so that they can handle the problem, whatever it is. 

More information for parents

Barbara Whiting-Smith RGN; RHV; DipCouns; MBACP, is a Parent Support Advisor and who worked with groups and individuals in Surrey. 


If you’re struggling to help your child through feelings of not being good enough, be it on the sports pitch, in the classroom or even at home, Barbara previously recommended the following books: 



    Tinies Locations: