The Parent 'Hood
Helping girls find a place in (or out of) the sporting arena
Sportscaster Hannah Storm says it's critical to encourage your daughter to play sports. (Tribune file photo / February 22, 2011)
Find out why she doesn't want to participate anymore. Is she fearful of the new and possibly older competitors? Has she already met the high school coach and it did not go well? The actual reason could be something you never anticipated. My second daughter wanted to be in sports when she was starting high school. She had always avoided sports prior to this. When I thought about it, her choice was based on the fact that her older sister was not involved in sports. I think she saw this could be her domain.
— Barb Matarrese
Ask her why she doesn't want to and tell her she can tell you anything and you will be in her corner. If she tells you there is nothing wrong, I would still keep my eyes and ears open and keep her informed as to any deadlines coming up. Let her make her own decision about this but don't let it go. She may change her mind and will be upset if she can't participate for a silly reason such as not turning in a form.
— Marie Grass Amenta
She will decide on her own with the help of her peers. Don't make her feel she has to reconsider. Let her know you trust her decision.
— Jean Rubinson
Not so fast, says Hannah Storm, ESPN sportscaster, mom of three daughters and co-author of "Go Girl! Raising Healthy, Confident and Successful Girls Through Sports" (Sourcebooks, $14.99).
"Participation in sports is absolutely as critical as anything else your daughter can do," says Storm. "Especially during adolescence."
"This is extremely typical around junior high — the same age girls stop raising their hands in math class and science class because they're becoming very conscious of gender identity and some of the stereotypes that go along with it," says Storm. "They don't want to appear masculine in any way."
Could also be that sports have stopped being fun, Storm concedes, or that she's worried about juggling the increased academic and social pressures of high school. Neither of which is a valid excuse, in her book.
"The rates of teen pregnancy, drug use, self-abusive behaviors and eating disorders are all decreased by your daughter being involved in sports," she says. "Even if you're not a great athlete, sports engenders a better sense of self in terms of body image, working together with others, what it's like to fail but still enjoy the process, that it's OK not to be perfect. And they're outside getting some sunshine instead of sitting at the computer."
As for convincing your daughter, Storm offers the following:
--Think beyond team sports. "Do cheer. Do yoga. Do golf. Do track. There's such a wide variety of physical activity you can do."
--Remove the performance pressure. "Be on second string. Be on JV. I don't care. Just pick a sport and play it. Have fun and be with your friends."
-Cheer her on. "It's really, really critical that you go to games. Put it on your schedule as if it's a business meeting. There's no way you can tell your kid, 'I really want you to do this,' and then you don't even make time to watch."
--Join her. If her chosen activity isn't team-based, consider forming your own team. "Sign up for a triathlon or a 5K together. You don't want to be saying 'Eat your vegetables' and then you never eat them."
--Don't waver. "You want to keep it positive, but you've got to put your foot down. Just like you might make your child take piano or do community service, tell her, 'This might not be something you feel like doing, but I know as a parent how good this is for you.' "
Got a solution?
Your 8-year-old was left out of her pal's birthday party. How should you comfort her? E-mail us your thoughts at email@example.com. Find "The Parent 'Hood" page on Facebook, where you can post your parenting questions and offer tips and solutions for others to try.