I can’t get over how many of my young patients who play sports tell me that they are up late at night during the school week due to their soccer schedule, or who miss church on Sunday due to a soccer or baseball game. Not only are kids starting organized sports at younger and younger ages (soccer for 3 year olds, flag football at 5?), the commitment to practice or play at what I would term “inappropriate” times seems to be more prevalent and absurd to me.
The mother of a 10 year old boy called me recently to discuss how upset and tearful her son had been since school has started. Upon further questioning it seems that he had joined a fall baseball team and some of their games are scheduled on school nights at 8 pm....which means they don’t even get home until 10:30 or 11:00 pm? When my own sons were playing high school sports I was not thrilled about Thursday evening JV games and how late we got home....but elementary school? Of course, her son was exhausted and then he would get anxious about getting his homework done before hand and getting to bed so late and then being able to get up in the morning etc. etc. She said that he now wanted to “quit playing baseball”, and cried every time he had to practice.
She was trying to explain to him that he had made a commitment to his team and needed to finish out the season, which I agree is an important life lesson about following through. At the same I totally understand how upset he is that he has to stay up past his usual school night bedtime. It is not uncommon for some children to get very tearful when they are just exhausted...same for adults.
So how do you rationalize teaching your child about loyalty to their team and commitment when adults make up crazy schedules requiring young kids to stay up past an appropriate bedtime, or forgoing Sunday school if that is what they typically do on Sunday morning rather than going to a scheduled soccer game?
Hard for me to figure out how to “fix” this situation until enough parents say..”we will not let our children participate on the team unless the schedule is appropriate for their age”.
Have you had any similar experiences? What do you think?