My son Danny is kind, thoughtful, shy if you don't know him, and a boy who follows rules and respects authority. He's often too afraid to take risks in life for fear of doing something wrong or making a mistake, and I wonder if because of that he will struggle to figure out who he is by imposing limits on himself. Lord knows I did.
However, at a young age, Danny is following a passion and taking risks with something he is very good at: hockey. As his coach and father I would watch him in amazement as he would stick handle through kids and blow past cute little opponents who were playing for fun while Danny was playing to win. I watched my 'gentle little soul' who used to walk around while clasping his hands behind his waist as if deep in thought, turn into someone else when he put on his hockey pads, grabbed his stick, and hit the ice. He isn't mean and he isn't a bully out there. But he played angry and aggressive. I'd wonder how this could possibly be the same boy who let kids cut in front of him in a carnival line because he was too afraid to say anything.
Sports is like life: You suffer defeats, enjoy victories, think you are great one moment and then do something really stupid the next. And sometimes you break rules, cross lines, and say things you shouldn't. Being a team player and a good sport are important things for children to learn. However, trying your hardest and wanting to succeed are equally important and should be encouraged.
Good parents and good coaches struggle to teach kids how to do both, and if that's what you are doing, then you are doing the right thing. Danny still has confidence issues outside the hockey rink, and when he is inside the rink he can be too emotional and too angry too quickly. But that will change with experience and maturity. Experiences are how we learn. In fact, I am glad that I get to see Danny's 'Dark Side' emerge in the safety and structured environment that is Chelmsford Hockey. It provides boundaries, allows him to see the consequences of his actions, and provides a chance to do things differently (hopefully!) when there is a next time.