By Suzi Mitchell
When you live in a town like I do, Steamboat Springs, Colo., which has raised more Olympians than any other place in the US, it’s no surprise that your kids spend most of their time in activities.
From skating to skiing, paddle boarding to soccer their time is quickly filled year round whether on land or water in sunshine or snow. As a mother it is easy to be dragged by the current of overzealous parents anxious to try everything and anything. What we sometimes fail to observe is each child’s personality mistaking lack of interest for failure.
While some kids may take to an activity like a duck to water, there are others forced to soldier on. All too often we see things through our own blinkered vision believing that exposure to something new is a good thing. During this last week I sat down with several elementary age kids to ask them their own viewpoint about starting something new. Here is what they had to say:
Let them decide what sports they should try.
Their take – maybe you should let us try what we want to do first, and then we can try what you think is best.
Give exposure to the sport first.
The kids who enjoyed a particular activity had been exposed to it through their parents, such as watching a favorite ice hockey team play, watching soccer on TV or a sibling’s team.
Their take – if we don’t know anything about the activity it makes us nervous, maybe we can check it out first before signing up.
Try something new with a friend.
Their take – maybe we will end up liking something, but we get nervous starting alone, perhaps we can sign up with a friend first.
Try, try and try again.
Their take – just because we don’t like it first time around doesn’t mean we wouldn’t like to try it again. Maybe we didn’t like the coach or had other things we wanted to do first.
Their take – it makes us feel good when you egg us on. Sometimes other parents can’t make it, so it helps if you support our team mates too. Watch what we are doing, we don’t like it if you talk to your friends the whole time and miss what we had to show you.
Competing isn’t for everyone
Their take – maybe we like just playing the sport and not having to do competitions. Even if our friends choose to do tournaments, some of us just like playing for fun.
Their take – Don’t make us late for practice; it is embarrassing going in when everyone else has started.
Their take – just because my sibling loves something doesn’t mean I will. The same goes for your friend’s kids remember we don’t have to do the same things.
Think of the surroundings
Their take – if water makes me nervous I don’t want to be on swim team, even though I know how to swim. We are happy in environments that make us comfortable.
Sometimes giving up is okay.
Their take – we know you want us to try things, but if we really hate it, don’t make us do it. There is something out there for everyone.
From the mouths of babes comes truth, sometimes it pays just to listen.