Should I force ds1 to try an organized sport? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 01-21-2011, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel almost terrible for asking this, because 'forcing' doesn't seem like a very nice word.  However, there it is.  Ds1 will be 7 this spring, and he is a very headstrong child.  I choose my battles with him, and would generally never do something like force him to play an organized sport.  There are a few reasons I'm interested in an organized, group activity: 1) Ds1 does not like to try anything new, no matter what it is; 2) when he does try something new (usually because the issue is 'forced') he often ends up liking it; 3) we homeschool, and in our current circle of friends there aren't as many same-aged kids for him to connect with as I'd like; and 4) it might help him improve his sportsmanship.  I might add that he likes to play various sports on an unorganized level with dh in our street. 

 

That last item, sportsmanship, is a big one for him.  While he's gotten better at losing or having someone else outperform him, it's still a real weak point in his character; he gets very angry and frustrated, and up until recently has avoided playing any 'winning' type of games completely.  I am sure that while he enjoys shooting hoops with dh in the street, the fear of being outperformed in a team or game setting deters him from wanting to join a basketball team. 

 

So, what do you think?  Would I be a totally mean mom to make him choose between, say, playing soccer or teeball this spring (or whatever the sport choices are!)?  I'm really conflicted about this. 


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#2 of 29 Old 01-21-2011, 04:42 PM
 
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My guy is in a similar situation...age 7, homeschooled, not a big set of same-aged friends in the neighborhood, so "team games" don't naturally crop up. He's a perfectionist and when he plays games with me he either cries because I won or he cries when I lose. He can't make up his mind the the emotions run real strong.

 

But I think that it's a valuable experience, the whole team concept, along with learning sportsmanship and all that. So I signed him up for homeschooling gym class that a friend organized at the local YMCA (we have a great homeschooling community here and we keep seeing the same kids at all the different classes we take). Since my son hasn't ever done team sports, this will be new to him. Who knows, it might be new to all his homeschooling buddies too. But it's not going to be high pressure since it's a different activity every week over an 8 week period. I think that is a perfect way to introduce him to the idea and experience of being on a team. I think that is a totally different thing than putting him in a town soccer team or whatever. To go from zero to formal sports would blow my kid's doors right off.

 

Maybe in your community there's the opportunity to organize something like that. 

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#3 of 29 Old 01-22-2011, 12:20 PM
 
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I think you should strongly encourage and maybe have him try a class for a set amount of time, maybe six classes then come together again to talk about trying something else if he doesn't have fun while he is there. Forcing doesn't tend to work with my dd.  I can make her get in the car and go but I can't make her participate so I don't tend to force things on her.  We do agree that when she starts something she can miss it twice and she has to finish out the activity.  Your son may enjoy a YMCA team sport that he already has a little skill in like basketball.  The Y tends to foster working together without pushing the winning aspect on kids.  Our Y also has PE for children who are homeschooled and a bunch of activities that are offered during hours that typically only SAHMs can access so that may be something to explore enrolling him in and having him try it out. 

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#4 of 29 Old 01-22-2011, 12:26 PM
 
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I would find something, but it does not have to be a team ball sport. Through the years, my children have done art, ice skating, tennis, dance (yes, dance for boys even), gymnastics (that has always been a fave), karate, golf, soccer (least fave), and swimming. I would try to find something he would take to and commit to it for 1 semester.

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#5 of 29 Old 01-22-2011, 12:38 PM
 
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Sportsmanship is an an important thing to learn, whether one is into sports or not. But it can be learned in places other than team sports. So I'd also look into other activities that would foster the understanding that, no matter HOW good you are, there is eventually going to be someone better. And sometimes, even if it's something you're not that great at? It's worth having at least a passing knowledge/skill level.

 

So, I'd suggest looking at stuff like martial arts, swimming, track, etc. The individual performance is as important as the team's performance.

 

But remember - at the end of the day, not all kids like sports or are good at them. And that's okay.

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#6 of 29 Old 01-22-2011, 01:05 PM
 
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My ds, 8, sounds very much like your ds.  He stuck it out in soccer for 3 seasons before giving up and hasn't expressed interest in a team sport again.

 

I did want to mention that not all team sports at this age put a focus on winning/losing or competition.  I know you mentioned that your ds has avoided winning type games in the past.  When we registered ds in soccer the 6-8 age level teams did not keep score and did not have a championship type playoff thing at the end of the season.  Everyone got a trophy for effort (I'm not a big fan of that) at the end of the season.  So if you are looking specifically for a competitive sports experience where your ds will be able to experience winning/losing you might want to inquire as to the league's regulations before signing up.

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#7 of 29 Old 01-23-2011, 03:35 PM
 
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Well, I'm gonna be the voice of dissent here. If you think your ds would enjoy it, then sure sign him up. I personally hated sports as a child, and honestly I don't think they did anything for me. My father was very upset by this, and still is. I just never saw the point of chasing balls around. I also don't really believe that sports foster "sportsmanship", I think they encourage competitiveness. To me, performing in an ensemble, like a choir or a play is much better at fostering a sense of togetherness.

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#8 of 29 Old 01-23-2011, 03:45 PM
 
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I'd wait a couple of years. From my experience with my introverted ds, age 9 is a perfect age to begin team sports. They've got some emotional maturity by then, they've got better motor skills so they pick up on things faster, and they actually care about the game and the rules of the game. Before about age 8-9, I don't see much point in team sports unless the child him/herself is really interested. 

 

I would try some classes to see what kinds of skills he likes and to help him learn to function in the kind of group that you need to work with to be part of a team. 6 weeks of soccer classes or something might be good.

 

But, don't forget about individual sports -- maybe what he needs right now is skating lessons or swimming lessons or rock climbing. Some kids just aren't team sports kinds of kids, and do better with individual sports. Individual sports have the advantage too, that many of them are easily turned into life-long pursuits. And the competition is against yourself. It's harder to be a life-long football player.


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#9 of 29 Old 01-23-2011, 10:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much for the feedback.  I was reminded by a pp that I can 'force' ds to sign up for something but I can't actually force him to participate...like the gymnastics class we signed up for 6 months ago (at his request) and sat at the sidelines for all 6 weeks.  Yep.  We went to each class, but he never participated for one minute. 

 

I like the idea of swimming, in that it's individual yet team-oriented, and he's familiar with the pool, swim lessons, etc.  Perhaps I will give him the choice of swimming or karate, which is something else he's expressed interest in in the past. 

 

Thank you all for your insight, as it has made me realize that a true team sport may not be for him just yet and that there are other options!!!


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#10 of 29 Old 01-24-2011, 04:49 AM
 
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I'm glad you're reconsidering. That's good not just for him (I think) but for future teammates. I've really been disheartened when I've seen kids signed up for things by their parents and then just not participate. It's not fair to the other kids on the team who do care to have one kid so blatantly disinterested in participating to his fullest capacity. Then it can make those kids resentful. (My sister went through that with softball.)


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#11 of 29 Old 01-24-2011, 08:55 AM
 
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MY ds 8 is like this too - I guess we haven't "forced" but we have strongly encouraged almost to that point. I do this for him because I feel he would like these things, but is hesitant, scared, needs a little push. He always ends up liking it a lot - basketball - or enough to make it through - soccer. WE have also tried karate and swimming and tennis, which he liked OK. I would also say - you are not in a big hurry - I wish I would have waited longer and found a better environment for the soccer. I think the sport itself is a good match for his skills and personality but it wasn't a great league - now he has a bad taste about soccer and it will be hard to get him to try it again. So if your child is hesitant, try to find the best situation for him, because it might be even harder to get him to try again!

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#12 of 29 Old 01-24-2011, 09:26 AM
 
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My mom (best mom in the world type mom, really a great mom) did once "force" me to try an organized sport.  This was not typical of her at all.  I had played others before but lost interest in them.  This particular sport I assured her I wanted nothing at all to do with.  She only said to try and just this once.  I just didn't want to get up early and griped and gave her a rough time.  I can't remember my age.  This sport had required the buying of new gear, which was exciting to my younger siblings.  I ended up LOVING this sport, getting scholarships from this sport, sinking a large significant chunk of teenage life into this sport and still play this sport off and on.  I really love it and it helped shaped my life in a good way.  But I would have never known had my mom not dragged me there one morning asking to me please try.  One of my younger excited siblings did the same, another excited sibling hated it within the hour and never looked back.  


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#13 of 29 Old 01-24-2011, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It is really helpful to hear all these experiences...thank you!


~ Meredith, mom to dd(Jan '02), ds1(May '04) and ds2 (June '07) ~ :
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#14 of 29 Old 01-25-2011, 01:47 AM
 
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Developmentally, it is normal for a 7yo to be a poor sport and dislike losing. If it would cause him anxiety, there is no reason to join team sports now. Why not wait until he is 8? In the meantime, karate (or some sports skill he learns in parallel to other kids) may be a great option.

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#15 of 29 Old 01-25-2011, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think many of you are right - a team sport might put someone like my ds over the edge at his age.  Someone in our homeschool group just organized a pottery and kid yoga class, so I am going to strongly encourage him to try that.  Of course his first reaction was 'no' but as much as I can force the issue I will.  I feel like really needs that little push to try anything different!  Case in point: I recently signed him up for a musical instrument sampler class.  He ardently didn't want to go, and once he went to the first class he professed to hate it (although I observed him enjoying it quite a bit).  The second class he still 'hated it,' the third class he didn't say he hated it but he didn't want to go, and after the fourth class he proclaimed that it was awesome and he now wants to take guitar lessons shrug.gif

 

Kids are very perplexing.  I'm really unsure of how to handle the issue of getting kids out of their box a bit while still respecting their wishes and interests.  Sometimes I also think I can't believe anything they say because they are so 'in the moment.'  For instance, I feel like my kids often confuse not wanting to do something, ever, with the concept of "at this moment I do not want to go to music class because I'm playing a really fun computer game and don't want to stop."


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#16 of 29 Old 01-25-2011, 02:06 PM
 
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Great insight, thanks for the comments. My son is going through a phase of "hating" school right now (kindergarten public school) though I've observed him enjoying the experience when I volunteer in class. I'm thinking that he expresses this b/c it's hard, or presents new learning challenges (reading/math/social). I do think they make these comments in the moment, or anytime they are either temporarily engaged in something fun and don't want to stop, or in the bigger picture, stretched into a new experience where they may initially feel a little lost or incompetent. Eventually competency and familiarity builds, and they can enjoy learning new skills. I think it's our job to push them a bit, though not to an excessive degree like tiger mother in the news.

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#17 of 29 Old 01-26-2011, 11:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Pregnant@40, you are SO right on...


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#18 of 29 Old 01-27-2011, 03:06 PM
 
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I would not force him to join an organized sport or sign him up against his natural interest.

 

Instead, I would seek out non-competitive activities like swim class or a hs swim group, acting/theater, an art class, hs day at the library, group rock climbing, etc.

 

I really think that "sportsmanship" is developmental and they grow into it. I was a horrible "sport" around that age and would storm off and go cuddle my gramma if I started performing poorly at a neighborhood baseball game :lol By the time I was an adolescent/early teen, I was over it and had learned different areas where I excelled at.

 

My dd is the same age, hs'd, and similar inclinations about being a "poor sport" or hating to lose. We work on it a little at a time and have noticed a lot of progress coming from playing family games. She has made huge leaps in this area, but I refuse to do competitive sports because it just grates against the values I want her to internalize at this age---I want her to enjoy the activities for the sake of doing them, not showing someone else up; also helping one another and realizing that some people you're playing next to may have more or less experience than you and that's okay, no pressure. Just my two cents. She does swim camp and hs library day; I try and find group classes and activities where she can shine but won't get trampled or sucked into social negativity.

 

So that's what I would do in your shoes---go thru your local parks and rec publication or whatever you have in your area and just bring up the ones that are non-competitive that you think he might like (ie, "oh hey they have a fencing class this spring, doesn't that sound cool?") narrow it down to a few and then you pick which one works best for your family.


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#19 of 29 Old 01-27-2011, 03:28 PM
 
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I have to agree with not forcing an organized team sport if it is against your ds natural inclinations. Perhaps encourage him to try something that relies more on personal achievement. I ride horses and started when I was 3 it forced me to measure against myself as my competition and also made me look after an animal before myself. My dd, now 5, began riding at 3 also (at her request not my insistence) and loves the challenge that it brings her. Some local parks and recreation services offer beginning horse riding, it might be an idea to sign him up for a session, or perhaps to take him to a local riding school for one lesson to see how he likes it. 

 

I think of how much more centered my dd is when she gets off her horse, it is so beneficial in so many ways, and you can totally avoid the competitive aspect of the sport if you choose. Good luck!

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#20 of 29 Old 01-28-2011, 09:54 AM
 
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I am in a similar situation with ds, excepth that he has sensory processing issues and we were advised to put him in swim classes and gymnastics classes as therapy for him. He is also very headstrong. He took two swim classes and has refused to continue because he doesn't like being made to put his face in the water. Sigh. I think that if you really think your ds would enjoy organized sports, you should take him to some events to watch first.


 


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#21 of 29 Old 01-28-2011, 02:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Pookietooth View Post

I am in a similar situation with ds, excepth that he has sensory processing issues and we were advised to put him in swim classes and gymnastics classes as therapy for him. He is also very headstrong. He took two swim classes and has refused to continue because he doesn't like being made to put his face in the water. Sigh. I think that if you really think your ds would enjoy organized sports, you should take him to some events to watch first.


 


Maybe private lessons with a teacher that is more willing to work with you? DD1 has SPD, we use gymnastics and swimming as OT for her now. She did do extensive OT previously but we are able to "maintain" her with gymnastics 2x a week and then now she is on the swim team since I have had her swimming for so long as therapy. Those are the best sports have found as well to regulate her, and she does many others, but these are the ones we always makes sure she does. 


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#22 of 29 Old 01-30-2011, 03:42 PM
 
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Peony, I think that at this point he is so turned off by swim lessons that we will have to wait a bit. He really hated getting water in his eyes (always has) and nose (he is always stuffy). I do know of someone who does private lessons, maybe I will try them.



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#23 of 29 Old 01-30-2011, 08:14 PM
 
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Last year DH "strongly encouraged" our shy 5-year-old DS to join a preschool rugby class on Sunday mornings. After going 2-3 times, DS wanted to quit, but DH basically "strongly encouraged" him to stick it out (I would say it was just a bit short of "forcing"). I was very against this, but DH was adamant. He is passionate about sports -- not just for the physical benefits, but also for the social aspect.

 

For 5 long months, DH goaded, bribed and  "strongly encouraged" DS to go to rugby school. DS complained, but once he was there, he seemed to (sort of) enjoy it, although he looked bored a lot too and hadn't made friends with any of the other kids. Then one day, DS just turned a corner. He wanted to go. He played with the other kids and joked with them. He had a blast! Now he loves rugby, loves his team, has many new friends and new activities to attend (bbqs, winter festival, etc.). He has more confidence.

 

I am blown away because I never thought that forcing a child to do something could bring positive results. Maybe we were just lucky. I know it could easily have gone the other way. I guess my lesson here was to keep an open mind! 


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#24 of 29 Old 01-31-2011, 11:00 AM
 
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Peony, I think that at this point he is so turned off by swim lessons that we will have to wait a bit. He really hated getting water in his eyes (always has) and nose (he is always stuffy). I do know of someone who does private lessons, maybe I will try them.

 

My oldest was like that. I just gave up on swim lessons and kept taking her to the pool to play. She did finally start going under, got back into lessons and eventually ended up on swim team.
 

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#25 of 29 Old 01-31-2011, 12:44 PM
 
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Yes, but still give him choices, but limit to 2-4. Whether it is individual or group doesn't matter. I wasnted to try things as a kid, and after the session/semester was finished, I always had the choice to go back or try something else. Sports are a great way (well, music too) to learn self reliance and perserverance, personal improvement/competition (trying to get better/beat your best score). Swimming lessons are great for that, in addition to being able to swim if you get dumped out of a boat someday!  Something to maybe start a little later might be running/cross country. You could even do it as a family a kids run/walk or fundraise. Or if you live somewhere snowy...there is skiing and snowboarding lessons too.

 

It takes time to develop teamwork skills, and even self-accountability for individual tasks, and all will be utilized in the futue for collaborative work in high school or college, and in the future workplace. Most jobs require some sort of team structure!

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#26 of 29 Old 01-31-2011, 01:58 PM
 
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I'd wait a couple of years. From my experience with my introverted ds, age 9 is a perfect age to begin team sports. They've got some emotional maturity by then, they've got better motor skills so they pick up on things faster, and they actually care about the game and the rules of the game. Before about age 8-9, I don't see much point in team sports unless the child him/herself is really interested. 

 

I would try some classes to see what kinds of skills he likes and to help him learn to function in the kind of group that you need to work with to be part of a team. 6 weeks of soccer classes or something might be good.

 

But, don't forget about individual sports -- maybe what he needs right now is skating lessons or swimming lessons or rock climbing. Some kids just aren't team sports kinds of kids, and do better with individual sports. Individual sports have the advantage too, that many of them are easily turned into life-long pursuits. And the competition is against yourself. It's harder to be a life-long football player.


I somewhat disagree with your first statement about nine being a good age to start team sports. By nine many kids have put in quite a few hours practice and have begun to get their basic skills down and are progressing a fast rate, so a kid who is uber competitive but hasn't learnt the sport is likely going to find it a struggle and frustrating, so they will quit.

 

I have to second the rock climbing suggestion though, it is an awesome sport and you are competing against yourself. 

 

To the OP, offer your DS the opportunity to try several different sports, from team to individual and let him find where his passion lies. If it isn't sport, so be it. Chess might be his thing. The point is not what your DS does but that he enjoys the activity enough to put his best effort towards it. There is much to learn from that.


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#27 of 29 Old 01-31-2011, 02:11 PM
 
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I think you should. I think the worst that can happen is he won't enjoy it, and not have to play after this season. The best is that he may end up loving it, and never would have known if you hadn't encouraged him to do so.

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#28 of 29 Old 02-02-2011, 08:26 AM
 
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I'm so glad the consencous seems to be not to force. All kids aren't going to like, be good at, or enjoy team sports. If you want to teach them that sometimes you have to do things you don't enjoy, put your time and energy into a good chore system. We use Manager of their Chores. It actually teaches to be a "team player" as well. Our team is our family! I think our society puts too much emphasis on organized sports. Unless your child really thrives or simply enjoys a sport, what is the point really. You could be taking time away from them developing their true talent... Which may be more mental than physical. Playtime should be fun time. They get just as much exsersize in the neighborhood/yard/park... That's the point right!
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#29 of 29 Old 02-04-2011, 02:21 AM
 
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I don't see anything wrong with forcing kids to try sports, I just wouldn't make him continue if he doesn't like it. I was an awkward, emotional and clumsy child myself, I'm still very nerdy, and I HATED soccer as a kid. Childhood asthma plus an unsympathetic coach made every time I ran laps a hideous embarrassment that always ended with the entire team pointing and laughing at me for not being able to finish. It's not like I didn't get exercise, I LOVED riding my bike as a kid, I just couldn't run at the pace I was expected to, wasn't allowed to take breathing breaks unless I really looked like I was going to pass out, and was hated by my team mates for dragging them down. It wound up just teaching me to hate working in groups and hate running. I overcame the working in groups problem to a point when I got to lead groups in high school, and I overcame running as an adult by running at my own speed and working up to faster speeds, but I don't think soccer helped me gain anything but humiliating memories that took years to overcome, not to mention caused problems with my parents, who I blamed for a long time for not getting me out when I was clearly a miserable wreck. I liked the pizza party at the end best, because it meant the season was over and I could go home and climb trees and do church activities.

Forcing a kid to try something new is totally fine, but I don't think it helps to force a kid to continue if they hate it and there's an alternative that they'll actually enjoy. If you suspect your kid will like it, by all means, get him out there! I was forced to learn to read, and ever since I've loved writing, and would love to do it for the rest of my life. I'm very grateful for it.

TTC #1 My chart: http://www.fertilityfriend.com/home/329153
 

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