Guest Blogs

Mothers Know Best: What to Do When Your Child Isn’t Cut Out for Organized Sports

My daughter didn’t like tee-ball, gymnastics, dance, roller-skating, swimming, and all organized sports. So we found other things to bring out her strengths.

I sit and listen to my daughter’s pediatrician as he talks about the importance of children with ADHD being involved in organized sports. I think to myself, What if my child isn’t interested in sports?

I remember the time we tried tee-ball. My child was the one playing in the dirt and distracting the runner from the other team on first base. She tried gymnastics, but was frustrated when the other kids in the class moved up. She struggled with the straddle roll and the splits. So we put her in the balance and flexibility class. She became impatient and complained that she was bored.

Next, we tried dance. She’s all legs and super skinny, so I just knew she would be great at ballet. She took a combined ballet and jazz class. She liked playing dress-up more than she enjoyed dancing. She wasn’t interested in anything that involved running. Her therapist suggested ice-skating or roller-skating, but she was afraid of falling. We talked about swimming because she loves the water, but she just wanted to play in the pool, not join the swim team.

My daughter can be temperamental, sensitive, and she struggles with her emotions. She’s not the most coordinated, a little clumsy, and easily distracted. All of these things added pressure to the activity when working in groups or as a team. Finally, organized sports are competitive, which takes away the fun for my daughter.

So what are my options as a parent? What’s most important is that my daughter be involved in something that stimulates her brain and raises her self-esteem. I’m pretty sure, right now, that playing sports doesn’t do that for her. Here are some alternatives that do engage her:

  • Create art. Some kids really enjoy being creative—writing or doing photography, scrapbooking, or sewing. My mom is an artist, and my daughter loves to visit her grandma because she gets to make soap, jewelry, paint, and play with clay. She loves nothing more than to make a mess and get her hands dirty.
  • Play music. Some kids love to sing or play an instrument. Music lessons, church choir, or worship teams are great for the musically inclined.
  • Volunteer with animals. Our family loves to visit PetSmart on Saturdays because the adoption agencies bring cats and dogs trying to find homes for them. There are always young volunteers that play, feed, and walk the animals.
  • Check out a local recreation center. These centers offer lots of non-organized sports and activities for kids, such as yoga, Zumba, and rock climbing.
  • Doing a science project. Some kids prefer looking through telescopes or collecting insects rather than playing sports.

I want my child to do whatever interests her and brings out her inner strengths and natural gifts. Doctors know a lot, but I know what is best for my child.