Youth sports is a meaningful part of many kids’ lives, but not every experience is positive.
Especially for teens, there often is significant stress associated with participation, the impact of team/coaching dynamics, and balancing life. Some teens handle such pressure well — and some don’t. Should you pull him from the team?
Whether to pull your child from a sports team is a big decision, and often a difficult one. There are valid reasons for a parent to pull a child out of a team, and just as many invalid ones. From bullying to playing time, consider your reasons carefully, problem solve if you can, and then act accordingly.
Before the season begins
Before the first practice begins, set clear expectations with your child. Talk about team commitments, academic and home life expectations, necessary communication and physical impact. Laurie Richter, sports mom and author of Put Me in, Coach and The Recruiting Companion for College Sports, notes that, “Parents are always trying to balance two seemingly opposite values: making sure our children know that once they commit to something, they should see it through, and making sure they are being treated fairly and safely. But make no mistake, there are situations when a child should be pulled.”
Richter continues, “With your child, you should set the ground rules before they join the team. They should know that once they make the commitment, there are only a few circumstances in which they can quit.”
Yes, pull him
Reasons to pull your child from a team include:
No, back off
Reasons to see a commitment through include:
Trying to resolve the issue first can teach kids critical problem-solving skills. If the issues are academic, try helping your child with time-management and prioritization of tasks. If the issue is interpersonal, try to coach the child through the situation before stepping in. If the issue is medical or injury related, seek the advice of a trusted medical professional.
Acting on your decision
If you believe that pulling your child from a team is the right thing to do, then do it. Psychologist John Morella, PhD, author of Give Teens a Break!, says, “A youngster’s participation in a sports team is for the multi-purpose benefit of the youth, not the parents, coach, or even the win/loss record of the sport. Exercise, socialization, perceptual/motor development, ethical rules of competition and companionship are all great benefits. But when the child, parent or coaches violate these benefits, the child’s participation should be questioned.”
First, talk with your child about the decision. Your child may be upset — or relieved! Remember you are the parent and your decision stands.
And the coach? According to Morella, “Arrange a private time with the coach and explain the sincere reasons for the removal of your child. There is no need to apologize to the coach. You know your child better than the coach.”