Monday, August 29, 2016

When Your Child Gives Up A Sport





"Are you sure you don't want to go back to gymnastics?" I asked my daughter as Simone Biles flipped through the air during the Olympics. My mouth dropped open. I could barely walk on solid ground properly and this chick was cartwheeling on a BALANCE BEAM.

"Nope," Natalie replied quickly. "I'm done." She even made a slashing motion with her hand.

I stared at the girl on the beam. My hopes and dreams of Natalie being like that one day faded away because I won't lie: when I first signed her up for gymnastics and saw how easy she made it look, I thought, wow, maybe she has that something special. I mean, yes, sometimes she'd fall flat on her face, but she inherited MY genes, so it's a given.

Natalie started when she was five.



She moved up the classes throughout the year. Rec Gym 1. Rec Gym 2. Rec Gym 3.







And then she was invited on the team. I should have known then that Natalie was thinking of giving up on gymnastics when I told her she'd have to practice two times a week. Plus wake up early on weekends to compete.

"No way," she went, wrinkling her nose. "I'd rather play." She wavered back and forth a few times. She liked the idea of being on a team. But she didn't want to do the work that came with it. She wanted to be with her friends. So she remained in Rec Gym 3, but sometimes after class she'd go, "The teacher yelled at me again."

I knew why. Natalie would space out in class. When she was supposed to be practicing handstands, she was staring in the corner. When she was supposed to be cartwheeling on the beam (like the Olympian--only she'd fall off like 80% of the time!) she was twisting a strand of hair on her finger. When she was supposed to race towards the teacher to do a flip, she'd be giggling with the friend behind her and the teacher would have to snap at Natalie to "pay attention."

That's what Natalie was told a lot: "Pay attention. Do what you're supposed to be doing." And Natalie just didn't have the heart anymore. In the beginning it was fun. But then it got tough. More serious.



"It hurts!" Natalie would mouth at me when doing the splits.

The other kids would come bounding out of the room after the class, vowing that they'd be practicing splits, cartwheels, and flips all weekend long. Meanwhile, Natalie was like, "Can we get some McDonalds? Can I go play with my friends now? My bones hurt. Gymnastics isn't fun anymore."

Then we moved. I thought maybe she'd change her mind. I told her about gymnastics places I found.

"I told you: I'm done," Natalie would insist.

"No thank you," she'd answer primly other times.

So when Natalie told me no again as we watched the Olympics--really, it was me watching--Natalie was messing with her iPad. She wasn't even interested in the girls who flew through the air expertly. I realized, this is it: she's truly done. My heart tugged a little. But I knew I wouldn't press the issue anymore.


She was done.



And I had to be okay with it.

96 comments:

  1. Please don't give up sport or gymnastics

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    1. I have to. I don't want to force her to do something she's no longer interested in. It's not the way I want to parent. Perhaps in a few years she'll change her mind.

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  2. I guess it's up to her! I had Zachary in karate for awhile but he didn't like it and I couldn't force him to go!

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  3. I think it's good for kids to be in an activity or sport but I agree that it needs to be something they are interested in. My girls are taking dance and they love it. The day they don't, we'll switch to something else. I can't force it and I don't want them to feel like it's a punishment. There are certain things they sometimes complain about-always having to go every week when sometimes they'd rather good off, for example-but those are things that I think are good for them to learn. Once they are there, they love it and anytime I've mentioned doing something else, they both immediately say no. But again, if they don't like it anymore one day? We'll stop.

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    1. Natalie might be starting choir soon, so that's something! She seems excited about it.

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  4. You absolutely cannot force a child to do something they don't want when it comes to activities, would you want someone doing that to you? If they are in the middle of a session then you make them finish because they made a commitment to the team, but why force them and have then harbor bad feeling towards you and the sport?

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  5. That's so awesome of you to listen to her and let her make the choice! Too many parents force their kids into sports or activities and it's just plain sad.
    I still think you should get her into modeling! That was my jam back in the day and she's so photogenic!! :)

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  6. It's better to listen to them, than to force to continue something that is no longer fun for them. They will learn so much more from activities if they truly enjoy them.

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  7. We have struggled with this too - first two years of tae kwon do then a few months of guitar. We didn't give up right away but listening to them is key. He has missed one minute of either one and has found a sport he likes. I think you did the right thing!

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  8. Looking back at what my parents pushed me on, it was a wonderful patenting decision on their part. In life we can't give up because it's not fun anymore. Kids are bored at record speeds now. Of course I'd rather play on an iPad. I even noticed my daughter wanting to do less when iPads came into our lives. I let her give up dance for swimming because she loved swimming but now I've learned she loves lots of things, that wasn't the problem. The problem is even things she loved eventually got boring or hard. This was a character trait only I could push her through as a parent an adult with insight better than my 9yr old. That's why I'm the parent. Too often today's culture is letting the kid make patenting type decisions. Studies are coming out saying the last 20yrs of this parenting style is harmful.

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    1. I respectfully disagree, but I appreciate your opinion. I won't push Natalie to do something she no longer enjoys. She whined driving to the practice and she whined after. She didn't want to practice at home as instructed by her teachers so basically they were wasting their time because she didn't care to improve. Perhaps in a few years she'll try again. She's saying now that she wants to join choir, so at least it's something. But I do not agree with forcing a child to do a sport they no longer wish to do. Granted, I DID make her finish out the year. She wanted to quit mid-way and I said no. So she at least learned that she had to finish what she started.

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  9. My daughers both gave up on dancing some years ago and whilst I was secretly pleased that I didn't have the hassle of taking them across town and sitting in in a waiting room (the only dad in a room full of mums) I was a bit disappointed that they wouldn't be starring in the West End.

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  11. Don't worry too much, love. I think children go through phases until they find something they truly enjoy and with her natural, athletic ability, I'm sure she'll find something that she's amazing at, but also makes her happy!

    Sondra Barker
    Pretty Fit Foodie

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    1. Thank you so much! She'll be joining choir, so I think she'll enjoy that. She also mentioned wanting to try out track in middle school.

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  12. I think you are doing the right thing, if she is no longer interested in it then there is no reason to force her.

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  13. The splits do hurt in the beginning. My coached pushed me down into them until I could do them myself, lol... It's good you're not forcing her to do something she isn't interested in.

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  14. It looks like she knows what she wants. Don't worry Mama. She'll find a passion, maybe next year, maybe in high school.

    I relate, though. I thought my son was talented in baseball, and he was, but he didn't LOVE it. He only liked it. Once it became year-round and intense, he lost interest. 2 years later I still feel like maybe I cheated him by letting him be done with it, but he has never once missed it or expressed interest in it again. He's really happier doing other stuff.

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  15. She was fully done. You gave her chances. She was done and told you. I so agree with that. I quit some things as a kid, but not everything. That was key. As long as it wasn't just a pattern, but a matter of me knowing when something hurt more to do than to skip.
    I saw one dissenting opinion above and I respectfully disagree as well. I'm doing what I love because of my parents supporting without pushing. Maybe some gentle nudging, though!

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    1. All personalities are different. I benefitted from the push because I pushed past and enjoy rewards from things I would've given up and not stuck around to see the reward. I've seen this in my own daughter. The look of accomplishment and self esteem boost when I've pushed her past "I don't wanna anymore" is beautiful! Amazing! What do y'all do when your kids don't want to do math anymore? Do you push? No? What the heck?!

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  16. I think you should keep an open mind though. Thats what we're all here for- not to all agree right?! But to all be heard and learn from each other. So I'm curious what you do when she no longer likes homework or a school subject? Do you still make her do it or let her lead the way? In my experience- and don't already be thinking how you'll cordially disagree with me (cause we're here to learn from each other and learning doesn't always mean agreeing but just listening- I went through this with my daughter. Loved dancing. It got hard. Hated it. Loved singing. It got hard. Hated it. Swimming. Same. If you notice a pattern I'd be re-thinking letting your child lead the way and it would be time for you to lead the way as a parent. Sounds like you're learning as you go...and we all are but if we can glean insight from each other, all the better. You're not going to learn anything from everybody agreeing with you but you'll feel better. And hey I sometimes write posts too just for confirmation. But if you disagree id at least repeat some words that you understand from the other person or you missed a chance to learn and your open mind is closed, only looking for confirmation and dismissing everything else. Because I don't you're used to, or like, people disagreeing with you when it's simply a chance to learn from each other.

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    1. I feel like I am keeping an open mind. I had her finish out the year. And then she said she no longer wanted to do it, so I didn't sign her up again. For me, if a kid isn't enjoying what they like, it's a waste of money. Not quitting math is different in my eyes: it's something that is needed in order to graduate. Gymnastics is not.

      I do appreciate you opinion and I never mind when someone disagrees with me. I've been blogging for years and tons of people have. It's the ones that come across as rude that I don't bother with any longer. But I appreciate how you gave your opinion in a tactful way and didn't try to hide behind an anonymous account like some do.

      Again, I get what your opinion is but I simply do not agree, and that's okay too.

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  17. I think you're definitely making the right choice in letting her quit. I was involved in quite a few things as a child that my parents didn't let me quit and I still hate that I had to do them for as long as I did. Of course, there are other things I wish I would have done longer but I know that it's my own fault that I gave up on them.

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  18. My daughter always sounded like your daughter, and I'm afraid she will want to quit things too much! I will follow her lead of course, because I won't force her to do something she absolutely does not want to do. I think she would be AWESOME at gymnastics but she's already told me she doesn't want to try because she's not good :(

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  19. In 6th grade I quit pointe, stuck with ballet though. The only reason I quit pointe was because I wanted to hangout with friend's after school. I regret it to this day.
    She will maybe lose muscle memory but always will have the gymnast in her!
    Also...Simone doing floor. That last move....damn...

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  20. Good for you for listening to Natalie. She knows her mind and what she likes. I started dancing when I was three and gave it up for a year when I was 10. Mainly because the teacher wasn't teaching and only paying attention to the "cute" ones. My mom let me quit and I took swimming for a year and then went back to dancing. At 16, I turned pro. It was in my blood. I put my daughter in dance when she was 4, not because I wanted her to follow in my footsteps though. At 5, she went to a Tae Kwon Do birthday party and loved it. So, after a one month free trial we decided to sign her up. At 9, she became a black belt. She took the summer off to try other sports and decided she wanted to go back to TKD to get her second degree black belt. She also tried dance again last year at the rec center. She liked it enough but her love is TKD and she didn't want it this year. The problem I have is people asking me if I'm disappointed because she's not dancing and I did. I'm not. She's not an extension of me. I lived my dream. She can live hers and I'll be there cheering every step of the way.

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  21. I was the child that my mom didn't not force me to stay in sports. I chose to become a police cadet and now I work in law enforcement.
    I agree with your approach! Choir is fun and still an organized group. Plus you can practice singing while your playing or eating McDonald's! ��

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  22. I was the child that my mom didn't not force me to stay in sports. I chose to become a police cadet and now I work in law enforcement.
    I agree with your approach! Choir is fun and still an organized group. Plus you can practice singing while your playing or eating McDonald's! ��

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  23. I think as parents we have to choose our battles. There are certainly things worth pushing and then again, there are things that are not. I would hate to become overly pushy with my child, and have her/him resent me. I've heard of many stories where parents overly push their kids do and it creates a wedge.

    And though those situations occur, I also think we need to be cheerleaders and push our kids (again, choosing our battles). Sometimes, (here comes the parent issues) I wish my parents pushed me more.
    This parenting gig ain't easy, fo'sho.
    All the best always!!
    XOXO
    www.mrsaokaworkinprogress.com

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  24. My daughter played one season of soccer and loved it so she played another season. Halfway through the second season she was complaining about going. I told her she had to finish the season since she made the commitment, but she didn't have to play again. She is now trying t-ball this fall. If their heart isn't it, what is the point? My parents did the same for me. I played until I no longer felt the desire for the sport.

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  25. That's a shame but I'm with you, don't force them...! She'll find something that she truly enjoys - hard work and all!!

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  26. Aw, that's too bad she doesn't want to do it anymore, but hey, that's her choice. She's the one who would have to do the work. My parents never forced my brother or I to continue a sport if we weren't enjoying it. Their only rule was that we had to finish the year or season so we didn't let our teammates down, and I fully support that rule and will be enforcing it with my daughter when she's old enough to participate in sports. But ultimately, the choice is up to the kid, not the parent. If they don't want to compete anymore, it's a waste of time and money.

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  27. I gave up so many sports as a child and I wonder how hard it must have been for my parents after investing so much time and energy! Eventually I found my calling in singing! Can't wait to see what your daughter falls in love with next!
    Kyla
    Wanderlustkyla.com

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  28. I imagine this is how my dad felt when I gave up tennis. He loves the sport so much and he would LOVE if my love was comparable to his. But I just found other ways to occupy my time and he had to accept it!

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  29. My girls dance. a lot. like 10-12 hours a week each. and no, they are not Maddie and McKenzie Ziegler, but they love it. It's where their friends are and they've been going to the same studio since they were 2 years old.. however, if they really didn't want to do it anymore, I'd let them pick something else.

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  30. Kids just wanna have fun, it's different when we look at them and their possible potential as grown ups. I guess 'cause I'm not a parent you need to give them options and support, not only financial but to just be there for them and let them choose. :) She's adorable.

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  31. I think it is great that she is open enough to tell you when she is done. Sometimes parents want their kids in activities they are no longer interested in. I have a little one and although he is only 15 months old, I will only let him be a part of activities for the time period when it is fun for him. If he says he is done, then that's it. We are done. I wont want him to give up on things when they get hard, but if he is not having fun, then we are done.

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  32. My husband always says to put the kids in activities that they enjoy. So we try to put them in 2/3 activities and then cut down to one seeing the interest level.

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  33. It must be rough seeing your child not interested in the dreams you had in mind for them, but letting them create their path on their own is so important. My cousin wanted his son to be into hockey so badly, but he just wasn't keen or able to play. He was sad, but understood it was not for him.

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  34. It can be difficult to watch our kids let something go. But the reality is that they already have a soul that is primed to do its own special thing. We just have to listen and support as parents! Great post, thanks for sharing this moment in your life!

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  35. My son is there right now. He's been in football for three years, switched to a new little league team, and they wont put him in the game. If he does not want to continue on, i understand, but I feel like I should encourage him to quit either, I dont know.

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  36. AHhhhhhh been there myself!!! My parents wanted a super jock and I was as girly as one could get. When I finally was old enough to make decisions I wanted out of all sports and enrolled into dance. All these years later I still don't think my parents have recovered lol

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  37. They know what they want. My oldest got his black belt and then decided he was done. He could have gone SO much further, but nope.

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  38. I've heard gymnastics is hard. I don't blame you for allowing her to make her own decisions when it comes to sports. ( Just my opinion ) I never played any sports as a child and I don't have any ill feelings towards my parents for not putting me in sports. My son is really active in sports and if he decided that he didn't want to play anymore we would finish out the season and I would support his decision.

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  39. I used to do martial arts as a kid. I did it for years and years (I was pretty good, too) until one day, I was done. My parents forces me to keep it up, though. For another year or so I was doing something that I no longer enjoyed and I resented them for it. Good on you for allowing her to make the decision for herself. :) She may always decide to take it up again when she's a bit older - who knows.

    Christie's Take on Life. xx

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  40. I completely identify with this. My 7 year old has done karate for 3 years and no longer wants to go. I was so keen for her to learn self-defence and attain all of her belts. But I do believe that they should be able to grow and explore their own interests as children. So as a compromise I've said yes, but we are looking at an alternative.

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  41. I feel your anguish. You feel that your daughter has what it takes to make that cut...but she just ain't interested. We can nudge the kids in a direction but at the end they need to decide what they want. Let go !

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  42. This is such a tough one because your daughter is obviously a talented gymnast, but you can't force her to do something she doesn't want to do. Is there some sort of compromise? Can you show her what she's missing? I would hate for her to regret her decision.

    Beth || www.TheStyleBouquet.com

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  43. Parents when a child gives up a sport you are not a failure. Maybe they just don't like it anymore. Maybe they are tired of this sport and want to try something different. It is okay.

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  44. I'm with you! My son gave up baseball, and it broke my heart. But I always told myself I would never force him to do something he doesn't want to do. He's turned out just fine, and I'm proud of him every day - so it's all good!

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  45. OH NO! I wish she would've stuck with it! Gymnastics is such a rewarding sport. When I was younger I gave up cheerleading and I regret it soooo much!

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  46. It is hard for children to commit because they do not understand that hard work pays off in the end. If she is not having fun while working, then it is good for her to stop.

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  47. Sports weren't my "thing" as a child, and as soon as the fun left, so did my interest. I can totally relate! My husband has been sports-oriented his whole life so it's hard for him to understand this. Especially when our oldest son, who is very coordinated and talented, decided football and baseball weren't for him. I can totally relate!! <3

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  48. I totally agree with Natalie's words :"I'd rather play"! Kids are supposed to play most of the day so I am not sure how I am going to deal with my own daughter if she asks for something highly competitive...sigh

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  49. Hey the struggle is real. But I think the most important question here is where did you get her super cute superhero leo's. I must know. Just searched Amazon. No luck.

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  50. I grew up seeing children pressured by their parents to continue participation in competitive sports. All it did was cause the child to lose their love for it and resent the parents. I didn't push when my son dropped two sports and I'd do the same again.

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  51. Our daughter wanted nothing to do with sports. We tried several times, but she was not having it. I sure wish she was interested.

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  52. I feel you, my son did the same. He was doing great in gymnastic and one day he said he didn't want to do it anymore.

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  53. You never know she might want to go back in years to come, better she tries other things then keeps going at something she doesn't enjoy anymore.

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  54. aaww poor girl. I'm glad you'r ok with it and arent that crazy mom who makes their kids do sports they dont want to do. She's so sweet.

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  55. I will not lie, this is so sad. Not sad that you as a mother allowed her to stop but sad to think about all that goes into "sports". The extra practice time. The time away from friends and doing fun things. I cannot tell you how many of my friends went on to go do nationals and other big events like that and were no longer able to go to the park or the mall. It's sad, but good for you as a mother for knowing that it's not in her interest anymore and allowing her to make her own choices.

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  56. At least you are supportive of her and her decisions. I remember when I was a little girl I wanted to practice judo until my mom.... Saw the first bruise. that's it, I was done. xD

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  57. My daughter is the opposite she can't wait to get leotard on and do gymnastics

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  58. I think you made a good choice when it came to that point. For my daughter when she got involved with anything I told her that she had to finish everything she started. But once she was done for a season or a class, or filming something, if she wanted to be done at that point, then she was more than welcome to be done. I didn't want to force anything. Although with some things like riding a bike and swimming it's a little different.

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  59. Hmm. Maybe, she just need a little inspiration? I know some kids who suddenly stop doing sports for one reason or the other.

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  60. I feel a little sad for her. She seems great in what she is doing. Well, if that what she wants, then we should be happy for her. But gymnastics is something. :)

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  61. It's wonderful that you support what she wants to do. Too often parents pressure their kids to stay in sports and it causes resentment.

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  62. This is a great post and I love how you handled it. It should be up to the child if they want to play or not. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  63. I gave up on so many sports when I was a child, until I found something that I truly loved doing. I think you did the right thing not forcing her to continue a sport she wasn't happy about anymore.

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  64. I went thru this with my kid a couple times. It's hard because you want them to see beyond the commitment it takes to the hard work and get the enjoyment of fulfilling the activity.

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  65. So Adorable! I went to gymnastics when I was very young like your child and also gave up! However I found other things i really loved like basketball.

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  66. I just love your response. You are an awesome and cool mom! I think it is great for kids to be in a sport BUT it has to be something they really love and enjoy doing.

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  67. I understand how you feel. Every parents wants their child to grow up to be something great, but if it is not what is destined for them, we cannot force them to go. I am glad you were able to acknowledge this. Kudos to you.

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  68. I think it's important for her to join because she enjoys the activity. My 2nd grader plays violins since he's 6 and it's a relieve that he's hanging on. Initially, we have to force a little for him to do his routines but we still make sure that it's fun for him. Sounds like she likes choir!

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  69. We were seven years into competitive cheer on a level 4 team when my girls called it quits. It was hard at first. That was how we spent all of our free time. Three years later, we survived and I would not go back to our busy cheer life ever again.

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  70. Good for her, am pretty sure she will find another sports that will fit her interest. Enjoy being a kid :)

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  71. Sounds like you are a very cool mom. My kids give up on sports so easily but they keep trying new things.

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  72. I hope she would have some sport in mind that she would really go into. She's young and enjoy first and find our what she really love. Glad your such a supportive mom. -Anosa

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  73. I agree with you 100% on this one. There are so many other things that are actual necessities and aren't the most fun in life that kids need to learn. While they can be good ways to teach commitment, leadership, team participation as well as a lot of other virtues, when sports or extracurricular activities are no longer fun, they shouldn't be doing them. ps. I can't even express how adorable the superhero leotards are. :) -Audrey

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  74. You definitely don't want to force a kid to play a sport they don't want anything to do with. You did the right thing by letting her quit. My parents had me in so many sports I hated when I was a kid and it just made me resent the sports because I was forced to participate which is no fun for anyone

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  75. I think it's tough to let go when you've also seen how much progress she has made especially if she's so good at it. I guess there just comes a time when they'd rather do other things. I would have to deal with this as well in the future.

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  76. She's very adorable and looks really talented. Forcing them to do something they don't like can be terrifying for them. Good luck! Hope she finds something that she will fall in love with.

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  77. Yeah, you cannot quite force kids when it comes to liking anything, hope you will share her coming stories. Here from where I come, not many are free with sharing their likes and dislikes glad there is no such issue :)

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  78. At the end of the day its really up to her and it sounds like she was truly done with it. I guess these are the kind of things I have to prepare for when I have children, thanks for sharing!

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  79. I wqas so heartbroken when my daughter gave up dance a few years ago. It's hard when you see kids give up on things.. but you can't force them either. We always told our kids if you start something, you finish the season.

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