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Should she be in more clubs or teams or something?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

My gifted dd just turned 13 and dh (mostly him, I'm not as concerned) is wanting to see her in more social activities and sports. Dd has never been the social butterfly, but she has consistently had a few close friends, operated well in peer groups and pursued her own interests. Most of her interests involve solitary activities. She really is absorbed in her artwork, for example. She will sit at her desk and lose track of time when drawing. She also loves to read books. She enjoys her school work and takes pride in it, shares interesting discussions her teachers have with the kids.

Socially she has one best friend and they have a sleepover about every other week. The friend goes to a different school but they have been friends for 5 years. She walks to the bus stop with a neighbor girl and although they have nothing in common (neighbor girl is obsessed by boy bands and starting to develop crushes) they get along fine. Dd so far is not remotely interested in others in a romantic way. She was mortified when, at a Christian teen hangout her friend invited her too, she was approached by a boy and told she was "hot." She said she never wants to go back there again.

My dd is not in any sports. Not interested. Highly resistant. When I suggested joining dh at the gym for a swim or treadmill even, she rejected it. Sometimes I can get her to walk the dog. That and walking on campus are the only exercise she gets. Dh took the girls to the park last weekend to throw frisbees and dd sat on the bench and watched most of the time. Probably just being 13. 

Dd is very active on internet bulletin boards. She's smart about it, never reveals age or gender or location. She also emails a long list of school friends, and texts a lot of those same friends. But rarely calls them or gets together with them outside of school.

She's in the band and enjoys that. Also takes private piano lessons. But does not want to join any student clubs at school. I wish she would consider joining something, I don't even care what she joins. Just to get out of her room once in awhile. 

Can you give me any feedback on this? Is it normal? Or should I be encouraging more activity or social stuff or sports or something? Most of the moms I know have their kids in sports or clubs or scouts, etc. She puts up a fight if I even suggest something like that. 

Oh and she's not depressed. She's very playful with her sister, happy, laughs out loud a lot, good appetite and all that. 

post #2 of 6

It sounds mostly fine.  She's able to pursue her passions (art and music), and has regular, positive social interactions.


The only thing I would point out is that the teen years are a time to start developing life-long health habits.  I would work with her to find something active that she enjoys so that she can develop the habit of being active and can draw on the positive experiences of it as a teen to maintain her heath into adulthood.  In my book, it doesn't matter what it is, but she does have to enjoy it.  Hating it is a good way to fail to develop those habits. ;)  She seems motivated by friendships.  I'm wondering if something there can be leveraged.

post #3 of 6

Yup, I totally agree with Geofizz. She sounds fine, except that from a healthy-living standpoint she sounds very sedentary. Unless her walk to school is >30 minutes and done briskly. From 11 to 13 or 14 can be a tough time for kids to be confident about physical activity because their bodies are changing quickly and they're not completely comfortable in their new skins yet. But I would see if there's anything you can catch her interest with and yes, if she has friends involved in something that might be a good way to get her interested. The other thing that IME makes a big difference is if regular physical activity is something she sees the adults in the family working consistently at, and comes to see "did I get a workout in today?" as just as important a question as "am I getting fresh fruits and vegetables in my diet?" 



post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you! :-)

post #5 of 6

This sounds like my brother.  My parents worried because he was not as interested in group activities as I and they had been, and he had only 1-3 friends at any time.  Piano lessons were the only "activity" that consistently interested him.


When he was 15 or 16, he got interested in environmentalism and joined the local adult group that was starting a recycling program.  Then when an enviro group started at school, he joined that.  In both he was very active and good at getting things done.  Around the same time he started going to church youth gatherings.  It was just a matter of finding groups he felt were worthwhile.  I think also he wasn't really into kids' groups directed by adults, but being in an adult group helped him realize it could be fun to work in a group, and then the teen groups he was in were mostly teen-directed with the adults just supervising.  In college and since, he's been a really involved kind of person.


So I don't think you have anything to worry about socially, but I agree with the others who said it's important to find some kind of exercise your daughter enjoys, even if she wants to do it alone or with a family member rather than in a team or class.  Do you have any exercise equipment around the house?  My dad put a trapeze in my room (!) to encourage me to exercise my arms and abs.  A couple years ago my partner built a climbing frame in our hallway where we can exercise, and because we're always walking under it, it's easy to pause and do just a few things.  We also have an exercise ball that seems to roll hopefully into our paths wanting to be used!

post #6 of 6

School clubs aren't generally that interesting and often, not particularly productive. Sometimes, they are downright frustrating. Rarely do they have invested adult mentors to offer any support or to encourage them to stay on task. Lots of school clubs don't actually DO anything. I don't blame your DD for not getting involved. School is a collection of kids who share a zip code and a birth year. Finding kindred spirits can be difficult. The most a lot of kids can hope for is to have a group that is "nice enough" to eat lunch with and vent about general school irritations. It sounds like your DD has that. She's in band and that's a often a safe group and offers the chance to work as a team. If she sticks with it, you'll find that connection and the level of activity increases come high school. She has close friendships outside of school. Sounds pretty great to me!


On the romantic front, she may be interested but she may not be ready to act on it. My own kids were not/are not there at 13. There were people they liked... that were clearly special but were no where near ready to be in an actual relationship and highly uncomfortable getting any attention in that regard. It doesn't last forever. Often, we find that the kids who are slower to the table aren't immature, they just take that stuff more seriously and aren't interested in the drama-filled, highly public, short term "relationships" that their peers have.


If the goal is to get her out of her room, I highly recommend looking into community offerings. You say she loves art, check out the local art museums and see if any have a youth council. There are two in our area. They are filled with kids passionate about art. They do some cool things like bring in artists for workshops, special speakers, attend gallery openings, ect. That might be a "club" that interests her more. She may still reject it now and that is pretty normal but keep whatever you find on file as she may start looking for those connections and involvement in high school.


If it makes you feel better, at 13, my kids were in band/orchestra like your DD, but no clubs. They had/have great outside of school activities and friends through that. At school, they have "lunch friends" who are very nice but share nothing in common.

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