"A child without rules is like a fish out of water. "

Let Son Choose His Own Extracurricular Activities


My son is a great student and a talented athlete. He is in 8th grade and during middle school I made him play soccer, take band, run track and just this past year he decided (on his own!!) to try wrestling. He excels in all of these. He, on his own, has no desire to do any of these extra-curricular activities, but I make him because I believe there are benefits to them. While on the team, he works very hard and does not let on that he "hates" playing.

He is entering high school next year and I have asked him what sports he will try during high school. He said "none." Do I continue to make him do things, or in high school do I let him choose for himself to do nothing besides academics?

If he does not play a sport, his dad picks him up from school and lets him go to his house and play video games until 7pm when he gets home to my house and then he starts homework.


Thank you for your question. While your son may be a talented athlete, forcing him to play sports and participate in a variety of extracurricular activities is only going to lead to his being angry and resentful toward you. And there are certainly other ways to limit the number of hours he spends in front of electronics besides over-scheduling him.

Here's what I would do in this situation: Before he enters high school, I'd sit him down and let him know that you'd like for him to choose one extra-curricular activity for the year that he'd like to do. It can be any one of his choosing. The only thing is, whichever one he chooses, he is to stick with it for the year. (And, if he decides he doesn't want to do it the following year, that's fine. He can choose another one--if he is college bound, these things look great on college applications!)

As for the time spent on electronics, I encourage you to speak with his father and try for the two of you to get on the same page about that. If you cannot, then it's ultimately dad's decision about this when your son is at his house. You are still free to enforce your rules about electronics when your son is at your home.

I do hope this helps. In the meantime, if you would like some one-on-one assistance, feel free to reach out to me anytime!

Laura Gray, Ph.D.
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

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