High school-aged kids are going to screw up. That’s a given. It is part of being young and stupid. You think you will not get caught, you think nobody will know or find out, and you think nobody cares. As a parent and coach, I don’t like it. I wish kids wouldn’t behave badly. I wish they would make good decisions 100% of the time 24/7. But they don’t. The learning curve of life is shaped by mistakes and failures.
But, what do we adults do? Do we turn a blind eye? Do we slap their wrist and tell them not to repeat the bad behavior event? Do we bring the hammer down?
Tough questions. I have no good answer. I don’t like the solution which completely takes away the activity from the kid. In our high school, I felt football kept a great number of our young men coming to school every day (more than any of us wanted to admit). Being part of the team kept them connected. Without the sport and without the team, many of them drifted away.
With a sports coach, I like the multi-facet discipline approach to a player in trouble. I think the most effective enforcement comes three directions—the parent, the administrator, and the coaching staff. Not too severe from either direction, but enough to turn the thumb screws and make life in trouble an uncomfortable situation for the kid.
Not easy topics. Mistakes and punishment are right at the bottom of the list of things coaches want to take care of during a season. But, they happen. They happen more than any of us want to admit. When they do occur, how we handle these issues has a long-term positive or negative impact on the kid. No pressure, right?
I don’t know the way to solve all these problems. High school kids will continue to get in trouble. Are we going to respond in a way the helps the kid in the long run or hurts the kid in the long run?
It’s never easy.