Friday, December 14, 2018
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QUESTION ON DROPPING GRADES AND SPORTS

Hi Tom,

I had a question for you on your “Response” about being careful punishing kids and hurting friends and teammates from yesterday.
What about if their grades falter? Now if they are in high school and sometimes middle school, they could be suspended for getting a D or F grade.
(Until the grade comes up). Well what are your thoughts on younger kids, say 10-14 that are slumping on their grades but are in sports that do not
Suspend for grades? Something has to be done, but that falls under the hurting teammates column.

Have a great day,
Dan Compton

Thank you Dan for that great question.
Sometimes, there are principles or rules that can be implemented and used in a broad scope, but your question involves one of those that I think can be can be forced into a universal rule. We have to be careful about making rules that will be enforced with out taking the individual child and his circumstances into account. Kids are so unique and different, and it is during the times when we see our kids struggling that we need to become students of them; really learn and pay attention to who they are, what they are good at, what motivates them and what causes them to give up in a heap of discouragement. Kids need to know we are on their side; to know we want the best for them. When we see their grades dropping, we come alongside them, and find out what is going on. To just take away a sport or something they love may not necessarily be the best thing for that child. If together the parents and child realize that the child is just spread too thin… not able to fit in sports and homework, it may be time to take a step back for a while so they can focus on schoolwork. This is the time for the parent to scale down as well, taking the time to help the child get caught up or get the extra help he needs. It’s not a punishment, just a natural consequence of not giving schoolwork the attention it needs. On the other hand, if grades are dropping, there may be other reasons, and that also needs to be addressed. For some kids, sports is what keeps them going, keeps them motivated, and to cut that out, would just cause friction, conflict and despair. Be careful about taking things away to try to control behavior, or get a desired result. Work together with your kids and come up with what fits that individual child and the family.
For some kids, the best plan is to minimize outside distractions, which may mean no baseball practice or games for a while. Remember, schoolwork has to be a priority. It’s a good idea to talk with the team and let them know that this is hopefully for a short period until progress is made.
It would be a great motivator to slowly increase the activity schedule as progress and effort is made.
Now there are some kids that are really wanting more “mom and dad” time, so in this case I would suggest maybe not taking away the sports activities but putting the ball into the parents hands and having them make the extra effort in helping to improve the grades. This means that the parents are the ones who need to limit some of their activities and spend more one on one time enhancing the relationship, working with the student, and motivating to work harder in school.
Grades and school activities are important; remember that bad grades may be a symptom or evidence of an unmet need. Sometimes taking sports away will not help the grades and may even widen the relationship and motivation gap. It is the parent’s job to find out what those needs are. This is a great time to be a loving parent. Step in, ask questions, and listen well. Allow your child to express what he thinks would help. Keep the relationship the priority. It takes time, but it is well worth it.

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