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ExcitedMama

Advice on sports/physical activity? Are friends important?

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My DS is a bit of an eyeore. He always finds the downside to anything. He very much wants to do what interests him and not what doesn’t. As a nervous first time homeschooler I wanted to add activities when he was younger to find out what interested him and so he could make friends. He took martial arts in K until he got bored and begged to quit and I made him finish out the year we’d signed up for. I made him play team baseball so he could have the experience but promised if he gave it one season I’d never make him do it again and he has never wanted to. We do a homeschool PE activity that rotates through different sports and the only one he likes is track. Obviously not a great sport for signing him up for something. He just got promoted to a higher and harder level within his swim team but he’s been begging to quit that for months now. My husband really wants him to stick with it because of course it’s great exercise. I know if he does quit it could be really hard to get him started again and he will definitely fall behind. He’s very sensitive about ages and never wants to do anything he feels is younger than him, like if his sister can do it he feels like he should be higher, so if he started again later and was older than kids on that level he would hate it. I want him to have physical activity but I hate forcing him to do something. He loves his hip hop dance class but it’s only once a week and there’s no team or competition. Likewise he does acrobatics once a week and loves it but again there’s no team or competition. We have tried the gymnastics studios in the area but they are pretty bad and lacking in any instructions. Since it had been awhile since he had dropped martial arts I had him try out the other studios in the area but he as no interest in trying again. His sister loves the swim team and is joining a competitive dance team which she is really excited about. It requires a lot of dance classes which I think is too much but she really loves it and I want to nurture her interest. I want the same for him with something active. Any advice?

He has a few kids he talks to at various activities but he has no interest in hanging out with them. He’s always swarmed by kids when I pick him up or drop him off but while they know his name he never knows theirs. I’m an introvert who would always rather be home reading so I can relate. Most of the boys annoy him and he’d rather hang out with girls who can carry on a conversation better  I just worry that at some point he will feel like he’s missing out on not having a close guy friend. His little sister is a social butterfly and has friends everywhere but he hasn’t really found too many kids that he’s close to. Again I completely relate because I’d rather have been home as a kid and didn’t care about hanging out with other kids but I don’t him to feel like he’s missing out on anything. Should I keep trying different activities so he can meet other kids? Or would you just focus on finding something he liked to do and not worry about that?

 

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I’d focus on finding something he likes, and let friends follow as they may. My daughter’s done competitive cheer both rec and travel (and if he likes hip hop and acrobatics, cheer may be worth checking out-it incorporates both. Many gyms offer major discounts for male athletes, and summer is usually a time that you can try it out without committing to a season. Plus a cheer gym with multiple classes a day and a liberal open gym policy in summer is essentially an air conditioned indoor playground. Boys who enjoy spending time with girls often do really well-and boys within a cheer gym do tend to build close friendships/alliances with each other), and tends to have “cheer friends” and “outside of cheer friends” without a lot of overlap-she’ll happily go to the gym and spend hours and socialize there, but not so much outside of the gym/at competitions. 

Edited by dmmetler
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So he's 8 or 9, right?  I found that while my kids had friends at that age, good friends like you are describing started to develop at 11 or so.  We have also never made friends through teams unless I initiated getting together at another time.

I don't think he needs to be on a competitive team. It looks like he has 3 physical activities a week that he enjoys.  Why does he need to compete?  For me the goal of physical activity as a youth is a life long habit and finding ones you enjoy are golden.  It was hard for me that my very athletic dd didn't like competing, but after one season of volleyball we let her stop. She does daily runs and once a week martial arts.  (She does do tournaments once a year now as a teen.)  Nothing will be lost from him not being on a competitive team.  Pushing him may push him away from physical activity.  I think three times a week organized physical activity is more than enough at that age.  If you want him to get more exercise, have him run or bike ride or go hiking with him.

Maybe he'd connect more with other boys through Scouts or First Lego League or Destination Imagination or 4-H.  I would try to cultivate a friend for him, for sure.  However, he's not likely to find a friend while participating in an activity he doesn't like.

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I have kids who are total opposites in my house.  My oldest was never interested in sports.  He tried them, every single one, didn't like them, and quit after the season.  HOWEVER, around age 10 I didn't give a donkey's worth anymore about whether he liked the activity.  I treated it as a necessity: he will do an activity he can take with him into adulthood. hat was my entire goal. Team sports and things with specialized equipment (like gymnastics) were out.  If he couldn't just go out on the weekend when he was 30 and do it I wasn't going to press it on him in his teens.  I signed him up for golf, bowling, and swim lessons.  I hiked and biked with him.  On his own he took up basketball toward the end of high school.

The youngest does team sports and loves it.  He will do anything competitive. 

Neither one made good friends through sports.  Physical activity is demanding.  They developed friendships through activities that focused on building conversation: scouts, book club, 4-H, maker groups..there's too much to focus on during sports so that you don't get below the surface of conversation.

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I don't see how a sport can be fun if you don't have any skill, and I don't see how can you grow skill if you only play for one season.  I also think making friends on a team takes longer than one season.  They are busy during games and it is not really a time for making friends.  I have found this to be a problem that while my kids are around other kids a lot in classes and sports, it is not social time.  You'll need just regular free play for friendship building, I think.

My son is a bit similar in that he often says he doesn't want to go do things but he always has fun and is glad we went.  If your son is talking to other kids and not standing alone all the time,  it sounds like he is doing fine.

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The current activities sound good.  Swim has some things to work out re: his competition with his sibling, and that's good for personal growth.  I'd stick with that....ime friends are made there and its good for staying in shape for running and biking.

If he likes track, consider Orienteering. https://www.orienteeringusa.org/youth-leaders/materials/o-young

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I think if he is doing and enjoying hip hop and acrobatics there is not really a problem.  Teams and competition are not that important whereas developing skills and fitness are.

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I would try Boy Scouts assuming you have a dh who could go along on camping trips and be at least a little involved. 

4H is good Too

Furst Lego League ...

BUT I say keep him in swimming until he stays with the other new thing at least 6 months and shows. True interest! Some kids are just a bit of home bodies, others are overly negative and it sounds like he might need to just be out there making the best of something. As long as he doesn’t hate it stick with it until/ unless you find something he truly loves because exercizs will Be So good when he hits puberty! Boys who don’t seriously exercise during puberty can be a horror to manage. 🙂 

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My ds12 is an introverted Eeyore (way more than yours).  We require him to take karate (for the discipline), swim lessons (seasonal) and he's in a FLL group (my hubby takes him).  He talks to one or two boys at these classes.  That's it.  He doesn't see a problem and isn't super social.  He talks on the phone most days with some friends (real kids) but this is mainly for online gaming (which I limit to 1 hour). We're a shy/introverted family so I can understand. I don't quite get the trend these days for pushing lots of activities. I require my big kids to do 30 min./day of physical activity (they mostly just walk on the treadmill).  

Your son is enjoying some activities and talking to other kids.  It sounds like he's doing great!  

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I understand requiring physical activity/exercise, but if he prefers to do individual things, I don’t see a problem with that. Bike riding or running can be good exercise. I agree that it sounds like he might like cheer. 

My DS never made close friends at any of his group activities,  so I would worry about that as long as he seems to be getting along and the kids are friendly while he is at the activity. 

He has made some good friends through Scouts, but they are kids he has met through camp and other non-troop activities. He is friendly but not close with the kids in his troop. 

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Thanks so much everyone! I’ve read so much about the importance of team sports that I felt like I needed to find something for him. Again as my oldest he is my HS guinea pig and I feel like I need to get him out there so he doesn’t feel like he’s missing out on anything. While personally I completely relate because I’m an introverted homebody myself I guess I don’t want him to look back and feel like he missed anything by being HS. 

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I would insist on him getting exercise most days, but I would not worry about getting him into competitive sports.  Actually competitive environments can ruin it for some people.  My kids have done very little competition over the years, and we are fine with that

Sounds like your son likes 3 things.  Is there any way you could add a class or two in the activities he already does, or plan opportunities for him to run / develop a running program on his own?  (I have a runner, and they really have nothing organized for her age around here, but I piece together a sort of plan from the local community races listed at hermes' local website.  As she gets older, I hope she will get more serious about developing a practice / conditioning regimen etc.)

Another thought - search online for gyms that do ninja training.  Even if your son would not like ninja training, the same gyms tend to offer conditioning / fitness courses for this age group.

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