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When Should Mom Step in on Middle School Student...

My 13 yr old will be in 8th grade next year. He has signed up to play football for the school in the fall; he has been playing since 4th grade. He is has been taking advance math since 6th grade, he is getting placed in advanced history next year. He elected to take an extra math class, so that he will be taking Algebra and Geometry. He also has played soccer every year since he was 4 yrs old. He loves it! I told him I don’t want you playing two sports in one season. He goes “Mom, if the high school wants me to play soccer, I want to!” I told him son you are going to have a lot going on with football and 2 math classes, on top of regular class homework. Oh one more item he is throwing on his plate is he is running for student council. We find out if he is elected the end of this week. I think he needs to slow down, and not throw so much on himself. I am very proud of his hard work, I truly am. I just don’t want him to get over whelmed. Should I not let him play soccer for the high school if they ask him? How does a mom step in and say no, when he is the one going to bat for all this? He sticks with it too, so he does not quit once he starts.

What can I do next?

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I would let him do what he wants to do, and if it ends up being too much -he's stressed out or his grades start to slip - then you will need to let him know something will need to be dropped. If you tell him no, he may just end up angry and resentful that you don't think he can handle it - if he really can't, let him find out for himself (but don't tell him "I told you so." - just be sympathetic and supportive).

I wish my stepsons were that ambitious and motivated - they always ended up quitting every activity they started, their grades are so-so and now in 10th and 12th grade, you still can't get them to do anything! The younger one will be 17 this August and he still can't be bothered to sign up for driver's ed! And the older one graduates this year, never applied to the college he was interested in (or any others) and still has no idea what his plans are for fall!

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At least he isn't a lump on the couch playing video games! I work with a lot of students who are! Let him give it a try. If it is too much, it sounds like he would let you know.

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Let him see how it goes... if he feels like he cannot handle it, hopefully he will not do so much at once again. He sounds like an overachiever... and that is a personality trait, not something that can easily be modified.

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Sounds like a Natural Born Leader. What's his name, I'll vote for him!

Enjoy him!

:)

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I would let him do what he wants to do, and if it ends up being too much -he's stressed out or his grades start to slip - then you will need to let him know something will need to be dropped. If you tell him no, he may just end up angry and resentful that you don't think he can handle it - if he really can't, let him find out for himself (but don't tell him "I told you so." - just be sympathetic and supportive).

I wish my stepsons were that ambitious and motivated - they always ended up quitting every activity they started, their grades are so-so and now in 10th and 12th grade, you still can't get them to do anything! The younger one will be 17 this August and he still can't be bothered to sign up for driver's ed! And the older one graduates this year, never applied to the college he was interested in (or any others) and still has no idea what his plans are for fall!

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Let him go for it. I teach AP classes in high school. I have LOTS of students who are two or three sport athletes and in multiple advanced courses. They are usually the ones that do the best in my class. Just be active in monitoring his schoolwork and his behavior/attitude towards it all.

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Mom, Let him do it. I bet he will do great.

We know many, many, extremely active and bright students who have always played a sport every season, been on numerous clubs, class President at school and on top of it all were in the top 10% of their class with grades. , even had parent time jobs and did just great at all of it.

Always follow your child's lead. Never assume, they cannot do what they want to do.

Just hold on, you are going to have a go getter probably for the rest of his life..

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It sounds like he handles everything on his plate. He's obviously not a kid you need to micromanage. I know kids who handle more than that. Let him do it.

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My daughter is in Middle school does 2 sports, takes accelerated courses, volunteers in the community, student council, and then some. I told her that she can continue to do whatever she wants as long as her grades don’t start to slip. Once that happens, one thing goes at a time.

She has been managing just fine and I tell her everyday how proud I am of her.

Your son will be fine too.

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At least he isn't a lump on the couch playing video games! I work with a lot of students who are! Let him give it a try. If it is too much, it sounds like he would let you know.

3 moms found this helpful

Let him see how it goes... if he feels like he cannot handle it, hopefully he will not do so much at once again. He sounds like an overachiever... and that is a personality trait, not something that can easily be modified.

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let him do it - less time to get in trouble if he is focusing on positive things!!

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Let him give it a shot. Tell him up front that if his schoolwork suffers, he will have to drop something extracurricular (football or soccer). Then stand back and let him figure out how to manage. It sounds like he's done okay so far. Some people thrive this way. If he isn't one of those people, he will figure it out. And you won't have to be the "bad guy".

Just make sure you sit down and lay out exactly what "suffering" means as far as the schoolwork (All A's in every subject? A minimum of 3 A's nothing less than a B in all subjects? Nothing less than a B in any core classes?). Spell it out and sign a contract about it.
Way to go, young man!

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Let him go for it! If two sports is a problem, that's something that the coaches will work out. Typically high school sports follow league rules that enable students to play different sports in different seasons (which is why, for example, HS hockey is half the normal season - it allows hockey players to play fall and spring sports too) and they probably have clear guidelines regarding whether or not a student can play two in the same season.

Don't worry about him burning out - if it gets to be too much, he can always slow down. As long as the pressure is internal, and not coming from others, let him find his own limits. FWIW, in 8th grade I was one of the top students in my class, did competitive dance year-round, baby-sat every day after school, was a class officer, a cheerleader, and played softball. I tutor SAT prep and there are lots of kids like your son - involved as school leaders, scholars, and athletes (or serious art students or performers). Let him stretch his wings a bit and always let him know that you don't expect this level of performance, it's OK for him to back out of things, etc.

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Let him do it. It's amazing what motivated kids can accomplish. And your son sounds extremely motivated. And if it's too much, it's better to figure out what he can and can't handle in 8th grade, before he hits 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade where stuff really starts to count. He'll push himself through the fall with his two sports and difficult classes, but then when the sports season's over, his schedule will, hopefully, lighten up a bit and he can take a bit of time to "recover". I had a crazy, hectic schedule in HS, too, and I loved every minute of it. I bet your son will learn excellent time management skills and will become extremely efficient in everything he does. If HE thinks he can (and deep down, YOU think he can, too, right?), he should be allowed to at least try.

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Easy, just say no! There is no way he'll be able to keep that pace up for long before he burns himself out. He's only in Junior High! At that pace, by the time he gets to High School he'll probably be ready to throw in the towel.

Now is a good time to teach him how to pace himself and manage expectations. Tell him the work load will be significantly different next year and in the years to come academically. And academics should come first...not extra-curriculars.

Tell him one sport per semester (if that's how the year is divided--otherwise you get the idea). If soccer is his true love, then that's the activity he sticks with. But in all honesty, I don't see that going very far considering there may eventually be a conflict of interest where scheduling is concerned. He might find his own coaches frowning on the two sports in the same season... I mean what about practice times and all of that? Anyhoo, if for some reason there is no conflict, I agree, two sports and school is too much! Make him pick one.

Depending on how much of a time commitment student council is, that might have to take the back-burner too. Once again, will this conflict with football/soccer practice? In junior high, SC is probably a very minimal commitment compared to sporting activities where practices can consume the week and weekends. I say if SC is more than an hour or two meeting time every two weeks, forget it.

With all that he wants to do, something is going to suffer. Tell him it's better to be really good one thing instead of a Jack of All Trades. It can afterall be really stressful if you're aiming for perfection and excellence, but because you're spread too thin, all of your accomplishments are mediocre. What fun or how fulfilling is that. Is he thinking about how he'll feel if he disappoints team mates, or fellow council members if he starts skipping practices or meetings because he has too much going on? How does he feel about kissing his quiet time goodbye? Even teens need a quiet weekend or weeknight every now and then.

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I say let him do it. This is a great lesson to teach him self-management. he will also have to get himself OUT of it if he finds he is overloaded.

I'm worried that you might be sending him the message that he can't handle it. So instead I would ask him questions like "how will you structure homework time with the extra activities" or "let's do a calendar and plan out the student council meetings..... ooops here's a conflict. What can you do about that?"

At 13 if my mom had told me I couldn't do an activity I would have been mortified. Especially because I was really good at some of them. I feel like sports and student council are equally as important as honors classes because they make your son well-rounded (and around other motiviated students) which will look GREAT on college applications and scholoarship forms!!!!!

Good Luck.

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I would let him try it. Our daughter is in 4 AP/Honors courses, cheerleader, orchestra and manages it.

Our counselors have said if you have the opportunity to go for the AP/Honors, at least try it because it is easy to drop back but very difficult to get in if you opted out.

Does your sone study a lot? How does he manage his school work? We have a straight A kid who rarely studies so she can manage the extras. He may be just as able to manage it as well.

You don't know until you try.

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Hi Treeb,

It sounds like a lot of us would love to have a child as motivated as your son. I understand what you are talking about: I have a niece that might be running a small country singlehandedly one day, she's just that 'together'.

If I catch your gist, maybe you want to sit down with your son and put a 'frame' around all of this. That is, be clear about parameters and expectations. Discuss things that will come up: how late can he stay up if he's got homework to do? Is he allowed to skip family dinners or is he required to come to the table, even if he has 'other stuff' that needs to be done? Can he trade some of his daily chores for some weekend ones, so he's still helping with his responsibilities? What sort of grades are you expecting him to maintain, and what will be the next step if grades slip? (And there, too, he might find high school classes more difficult as opposed to not doing the work. Schoolwork has to come first, so where's the wiggle room?)

Having a plan in writing to refer back to will help both of you move forward. The expectations will be clear and unchanging, and he'll have to consider how to prioritize his time. Either he will excel and do fine within reason, or his aspirations will need to be re-evaluated and he can decide which sport is most important, then go from there.

My niece, by the way, pulls all-nighters with mom's blessing, but has serious stress issues healthwise, so I understand your concerns. Sometimes we parents have to step in and say "no", even when kids want to say "yes". Let him prove himself next year and see how it goes.He might do just fine.

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Well, I would let him. He is in 8th grade and that seems like a great time to learn where your personally time management boundaries are. Whatever happens the grades will not be on his high school transcript so it will not be weight in for college applications, so if he falters, then he will not have ruined his chances at a scholarship to college, and if he excels, well, he knows his limits. I would tell him exactly that too because he needs to know that he is getting old enough for mom to know be bailing him out if it is too much.

I think that if you say no it will be a larger blow to his self esteem than if he were to try and falter... If you say yes, you show that you trust him to make choices even ones you think are unwise, if you say no, then you show distrust in him and his abilities. Even if he falters he knows you trust him and that he needs to SELF regulate, if he excels then then he knows you trust him and that he was right, if you say no, he will never know what he could have done but he will know that you don't think he can. He is about 13 and that is when the 1st stage of "Manhood" issues come up. This sadly is one of them and be glad that he hasn't decided to rebel against what you think is best for him with sex or drugs...

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Hi, there -
In terms of problems with your kids, this is certainly the one to have! Not to minimize your concerns, truly. I understand your worry. My kids are smaller than this, and I already worry that they are overscheduled. If your son is driven to do it, excels at it, keeps his grades up and doesn't seem to be troubled, I'd try not to worry. I would express your concerns to your son, make certain he understands that there is no shame in pulling back if he finds himself overwhelmed, and make him promise he'll talk to you about how he's feeling. Sounds like a great kid! Congratulations, Mom.

I can completely understand why you would be concerned! That is a quite a bit for a 13 year old! However, if it all seems like it's something he wants to do and not something he HAS to do then it is your job as his mom to step in and put on the brakes. He is just 13 and he may have a problem learning how to say no. That is not something you want him growing up with. He needs to learn how to manage his activities but still learn how to take time for himself and his family. Let us know how it goes! Good luck!

I would think twice about having him play the two sports if they are going on at the same time. Sometimes we have to make choices, you can't do every single thing. If he joins a team, it would not be appropriate to quit during the season, if he can't definitely make the commitment, he shouldn't join at all, IMO. I know what it's like, my daughter is a HS sophomore and she wanted to take 4 AP/Honors classes next year in addition to all of her other activities, and she will be president of a school club and I told her that she just couldn't afford to have a bad year or even a bad semester and didn't need to take AP English when she is going to be a science major. Sometimes you have to pick what's most important or has the most beneift for you. I think if he's putting his academics at risk, it's appropriate to step in (and I am far from being a helicopter mom so I don't do a lot of stepping in)

I think that if he is able to handle it all while keeping up the grades, then let him. Some kids are just like that, like to keep very busy (type A people) and can handle it just fine. If the grades begin to slip, then it is time to let an activity go.

Sounds like he's on the right track.
I have 2 boys just like that.
He does have to pick one of the sports as primary if they are cocurrent because there will be times that games/practices are at the same time. games take precedent over practices but usually if you miss the practice before the game you cannot play first half (all coaches have different rules). If you don't let him play soccer he still will but it won't be as organized or as fulfilling and will end up taking more of his time.
He should look at the high school he is planning on attending and check out the levels each sport is for the division. Since both football (fall sport) and soccer (winter sport) are school sanctioned then they can both be played in HS in AZ (only "club" sports is there an issue). Playing HS sports is usually quite competitve if the school does not offer freshman and only JV or Varsity so the better shape he is in will help him for tryouts as well.
I know many 8th graders that have been playing soccer, baseball, basketball every year since they were 3 years old start a new sport, lacrosse (no cuts), because the HS they chose was Brophy and they wanted a back up sport in case they didn't make their chosen sport.(If've seen some boys switch schools mid year if they don't make the cuts)The point is an athlete is an athlete and athletes are usually good at more than one sport. Boys that are athletic are happy, less stressed, and much more relaxed as long as they are doing their sports.
FYI My oldest went competitive and "dropped" all other sports but 1 officially in the fall of his freshman year to show committment to his coach. That didn't mean he stopped doing them. He still loved soccer and would play on a monday night indoor league with a past coach and friends to wean himself from it). The commitment paid off and he was recruited to a Division 1 Ivy league college.

He sounds like my daughter was at that age.

Why not make a deal with him.... I will let you do all this BUT if your grades start suffering you need to cut your extra curricular activities down.

There are some kids that need to have all this on their plate to keep them busy and they do fine.

Those that cannot handle it need to find it out for themselves.

I'm a middle school teacher and it sounds like you have a great kid on your hand, but like many of us, he doesn't know what his limits are. I would certainly let him go down this path and see how he does. I would, however, watch him carefully to make sure that he's doing fine (even beyond grades). I love it when I see motivated kids, but I'm also a firm believer in a little down time now and then. Sometimes we all just have to stare at the wall and veg for a bit. Kids are no different.

He may very well do fantastic... if so, great! If not, I would help him learn how to reflect on why he's feeling overwhelmed and spent. It's a great lesson.

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