My son just turned 13 years old, and he has been playing hockey since he was 5. This year his grades are not so hot, so his mother wants to take hockey away for a year.
He only plays hockey one day a week and on the weekend. My son will tell anyone that hockey is his passion and he loves to play.
His mother did this to his older brother (different father) when he was about the same age, and she never let him return to hockey.
As many of coaches have said -- he is on the verge of being great. I try to explain to her that hockey is not the problem with school.
From: John, Michigan
Hi John --
So what is the problem with school? Since you and his mother agree that his school performance is "not so hot," the first order of business is to figure out what's causing that. Start by asking your son what he thinks the problem is; a child this age definitely has an opinion about what's preventing him from doing better, and he needs to have the opportunity to give his input. If nothing else, he will be much more willing to buy into the solution if he's part of the discussion rather than if a so-called solution is forced on him.
Getting to the bottom of school performance also means conversations with teachers/guidance, etc., and maybe even some testing. You might give him the opportunity to be part of those conversations, too.
By the way, what does "not so hot" mean? That needs to be defined clearly for everyone, within an expectation that you all agree is reasonable for him.
Now, about the hockey. Taking away something he loves has the potential to create a bigger problem, not solve one -- to make him angry and resentful that his parent(s) arbitrarily took away the one sport he loves. Plus -- for a year?! I don't see that as a solution.
Sometimes it works to take away a "privilege" as a consequence to inappropriate behavior. But that works only when there's a relationship between the bad behavior and the privilege, and when the consequence is of a reasonable duration. If a child goes over his text minutes, the consequence might be to have him figure out a way to earn money to pay for the next month's texts. Taking away TV would be an unrelated consequence
Meanwhile, what I said above applies to the hockey, too. The more you involve a preteen in the discussion of the problem, the more he is to feel that you respect him and therefore the more likely he is to own the solution. I suggest the three of you have a candid conversation that outlines both parents' unhappiness with his academic performance; his mom's concern that the hockey is putting a strain on his ability to do school work; and a willingness for the three of you to figure out how to solve the problem.
What kind of grades would he like to be getting? What does he think he needs to do to get those grades? How can you, as his parents, help him? Does he need a tutor in a particular subject? Extra help from a teacher? Help to be better organized with his school work, like knowing when projects are due? (Kids this age frequently bump up against organizational problems.) If hockey is not the only extra curricular, does he think he has too many? What would he like to drop? Is there some other reason entirely that he is doing poorly in school? Like stress, family problems?
So, no, I wouldn't take away the hockey unless the three of you agree there is a direct link to his academics.
Meanwhile, this might not be helpful for you since you're in Michigan, John, but Boston area parents of teens might be interested in this FREE seminar next Saturday. Michael Jellinek, who is among the speakers, is an excellent resource on teens. Registration is required even though it's free.
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