My youngest daughter Milla tried ballet classes a total of five times. The first two went OK, the third she refused to go in, and then the last two resulted in tears and holding onto my leg like she was about to be forced into a pit of fire.
She was three-years-old at the time and after spending thirty minutes of the lesson trying to coerce her into the room, I thought to myself, what am I doing? I am making her miserable, that’s what. So, we quit.
At first, I felt like a walk over, a parenting failure. The phrases, “don’t be a quitter”, “you’ve got to stick with it” and “no pain, no gain” flooded my mind, along with an image of a buff, angry P.E teacher yelling at kids in an American gym class. But then I thought, is this tough, aggressive attitude beneficial in any way? And is it beneficial for children?
When I was young, I think I tried every sport known to man – gymnastics, swimming, hockey, tennis, badminton, volleyball and table tennis. I also tried my hand at a few musical instruments – keyboard, the clarinet, even the French horn. Once I decided that one of these things wasn’t for me I would try something else, until eventually I found one I liked, or none that I liked (as was the case with music).
Tennis and swimming I participated in for years, not because I was super great at them but because I found that I liked them. I had genuine fun, so I kept at it. I was also lucky that I had a mum that supported me and listened to my experiences when I tried these different activities. She didn’t make me ‘stick with’ something that I hated and encouraged me to find the activities that I loved.
Participating in these sports ultimately taught me skills and lessons that I have been able to incorporate into everyday life. Things like team work, tenacity and giving it my all. But mostly, I just enjoyed myself and as a kid, this is what is the most important.