On my way to taking Audrey to school today I caught an interview on the radio with Tom Farrey. He wrote a book about how we, Americans, are pushing our kids to become 'world class' athletes and we are burning our kids out. The book is really surrounding the sport of soccer, but his argument can easily be transitioned into many other sports [ie. baseball, basketball, hockey, lacrosse].
This got me thinking this morning. Am I burning my child out? Am I pushing her to become the best athlete or do I just want her to have fun? After a morning of really thinking about it, I am convinced that I just want her to have fun. She is 7 years old for crying out loud.
Audrey is involved with cheer leading. It involves a ton of different disciplines and requires practice to become a good cheer leader, and as I think more about it, there are a ton of mom's there watching and coaching from the sidelines. They are coaching from the bench, rather than letting the coaches do their thing.
I think it does come down to coaching. Are the coaches really setting up the kids for success? I think so. Audrey's coach is fantastic. She barks orders, demands respect, but she also makes sure the kids have fun in the end. At this point Audrey can do a cartwheel [barely], the splits [with ease], but isn't too good at much else, and I am cool with that. She still wants to go [most days] and have fun. They all look up to the older girls and they all try to emulate them. But still the fact remains, the parents of my daughter's team, want to win. This past year, her team went exhibition. That means they go to the competitions and perform, they are judged, but they are not ranked. They get the experience but not the pressure to win, her coaches are doing the right thing The parents want to go for trophies, the glory, maybe something they have missed from their childhood?
I am cool with Audrey competing for real but not until she moves up to the next level. Now I realize she needs to work to get to the next level, but so many parents want to put the skills up against another gym. It's just another 'keeping up with the Jones' scenario. It's great to say that my child is in the best gym with the most medals, but seriously, if the kids are having fun, then great, and if the coach is great, then that's even better. Winning doesn't mean better all the time. I watched 3 girls have panic attacks on stage during a competition from a competing gym. The girls didn't smile unless they were performing. The girls from my gym were having fun, smiling, and they may have not won, but then again, their parents are paying for anxiety medication either.
So this leads me to the end. Let kids be kids. When it comes to winning, save it for when they are older, like double digit ages, but don't put SO much pressure on winning that it dilutes what kids want to do, play with toys, ride bikes, and have fun. They aren't supposed to have full time jobs, and all these parents who have their kids in Summer Leagues, Winter Leagues, Spring Leagues, school sports, and they have all these practices, is just like giving them a full time job.
Yarn and... teeth.
2 years ago