Sports - do I give up?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by BlueTopaz, Apr 19, 2014.

  1. BlueTopaz

    BlueTopaz New Member

    Posting in this forum because my daughter is almost 6, and heading into a more "mature" level of childhood (ha. ideally).
    Okay - so she made the elite gymnastics team when she just turned 5 - she's amazing, maybe the best and youngest on the team. Ex let her skip when she "had a belly ache", so that caused months of screaming and drama when she realized she had control over the situation (5 hours of expensive instruction a week - we can't skip class because of a sudden "belly ache"). Enter therapy, anxiety control, consequences and encouragement on my part, and everything is good again. No belly aches. She loves gymnastics. Then things fall apart, possibly because ex decides his girlfriend will be present during the rare times he sees the kids, and my daughter is having meltdowns and anxiety about it all. So he takes her to gymnastics on occasion, she melts down over and over again, he refuses to encourage her or do anti-anxiety techniques - so I removed her... (he said "this isn't the Olympics", to give an example of his attitude). This was 2 weeks ago.

    I signed her up for soccer this week. She was amazing at practice, and thrilled about it. So ex gets excited, shows up for the game - she's intimidated by all the well-trained big kids on the other team (seemingly awfully old for a preK/K league...), doesn't know to play under such pressure, and gets hit in the stomach by a ball (not badly - I was watching closely). Runs to her dad sobbing. The coach begs her to come back out after a break. Ex gets in a fight with me that she's hurt badly and needs to stay with him on his lap. I bring her to the coach, and my daughter wants me to go on the field with her. I say no. She runs back to her dad. I say if she won't play, I'm bringing her home. He says no. I finally left because I didn't want to escalate the situation.

    This is a kid who bounces and races around the house 24/7 if she's not medicated day and night. She HAS to have an outlet. She's extremely talented athletically, and coaches have been eying her for YEARS (not exaggerating). I can't believe she gave up the gymnastics that she loved just to make a point, and I can't believe she tried it all again during her first soccer game. WTH? What am I supposed to do? Give up entirely and try to take care of myself first (heck, I can go to the gym myself), and let her run wild with babysitters? I did ask my ex to not to come to any more soccer games because she will run to him for attention, but now I don't want to take her any more either. She's still in therapy, and the therapist was disappointed that she quit gymnastics (will talk to her more about that). Help. Any advice is useful. SO much more to this story - I swear I'm not a hard-driving sports parent. I just want my kid to use her talents and energy, and I want the ODD to get out of the way.
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Being gifted athletically doesn't mean she's ready for team sports. I suspect your daughter, while talented, may be a perfectionist... this can make her terribly anxious. I think you and your ex need to find an athletic outlet for her but minimize winning and competition. She's very young and needs to build her skills and be a team player. You both need to gently tell her to see the coach or team mom/dad first for anything that hurts so she can be a little independent.
  3. BlueTopaz

    BlueTopaz New Member

    Thank you, tiredmommy... she probably is heading in the direction of being a perfectionist (I certainly am one). I put her in soccer thinking it'd be less competitive, but I forgot how intense it can be, even at age 5 (I think we live in the number one youth soccer city - and this is a "mellow" soccer league). She's going to basketball camp for one week this summer - probably a good to pull both parents out of it and let her deal with it on her own, for camp.

    I know I have a lot of anger - the ODD/ADHD is so hard, as those of us who deal with it know, and my ex is sympathetic but doesn't quite get it. So I blow up over things like sports... and then come back to the fact that she needs to run and be active! We do sprints up and down the street, but I can't keep up with this kid. We have a trampoline, basketball hoop, tumbling mat, etc. I keep her active, but she's unstoppable... has never worn out - so much for non-medicinal interventions. But the anxiety is so intense - we need to work on that. Thank you for your response, tiredmommy!
  4. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Have you considered swimming? Or perhaps a running club? there's not a lot of "bench" time so those endeavors may wear her out.
  5. BlueTopaz

    BlueTopaz New Member

    Also - am looking at your signature... my daughter had severe reflux until 13-14 months old. It interfered with the bonding process, in my opinion. She was adopted at birth, and threw up violently for so long - I held her as much as I could, but somewhat reluctantly, because I knew what would happen. Our burp cloths were full size bath towels.
  6. BlueTopaz

    BlueTopaz New Member

    I am thinking of both swimming and running -she enjoys both. Seems like there aren't too many opportunities for a young runner, but I should see what I can find. She's never had swim lessons, but has somehow taught herself to get by in the water. I know I need to get on that!
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    TiredMom kind of beat me to the punch. I agree with her post. In fact, not all kids, even gifted athletes, are made for competitive team sports. And some just like to do sports on their own time. I also agree with swimming as it is less competitive (you are really only competing against yourself) but it really makes you burn off the energy. A great thing to buy for an active kiddo? A trampoline and net. Wow, the kids can play on that for HOURS and HOURS. We'd have the whole neighborhood here. Your daughter is a gymnast? Watch her do flips and other tricks. One of my kids was very good at that and came inside exhausted andt his was one of my "overactive" kids!!! Nice to see him laying on the

    I had one kid (36) who was a decent athlete, but had too much anxiety to play in front of a crowd. I don't really think it is a good idea to force competitive sports. My youngest is a jock star in school and, being the youngest and only one I'd seen in competitive sports, I am shocked at how young and early the extreme pressure and competition sets in. That particular child thrives on the competition, but 36 (my oldest) fell apart under it and did not do well and finally refused to play. He made Little League on a very prestigious team then refused to practice. He was so stressed by it, and although he is manipulative he was not playing me, husband and I allowed him to quit. He suffered a huge social backlash for being chicken to play, and he was very popular, but he still thinks it was worth it. ODD does not stand alone and is not the reason most kids quit something they are really good at, like sports. But anxiety can. Anxiety can also render even a great athlete unable to perform in a team sport game. Remember, kids can be very cruel. In sports, they can be brutal.

    Team sports is not the only outlet for a kid who needs to burn off excess energy. There are many options. Karate?

    There are also some kids who do not GET worn out. When my Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) son was a little one, he was nonstop action and did not sleep well no matter how much we made sure he had ample opportunity to run around for hours at parks, playplaces, McDonalds Playland, in the yard, etc. Time could be your friend. My son is 21 now and no longer hyperactive that way.

    Hugs and so sorry for your hurting mommy heart.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  8. BlueTopaz

    BlueTopaz New Member

    Thank you, Midwest Mommy! I really am surprised at the intensity of team sports at such a young age. I took my son out of soccer at age 6 (6!) because I saw that he did not have the temperament for that kind of competition (at ALL - he's a shy happy-go-lucky kid). He is in gymnastics, and loves it (it's competitive, but not as intense at some of the other levels). I honestly don't think my daughter has the temperament (very anxious) for team sports either, so I was hoping gymnastics would be the best fit for her. Right now she just wants to do whatever her friends do, and skip around from one sport to the next. I understand trying things out, but I also want to provide guidance.

    And that does make a lot of sense that her anxiety is what is keeping her from doing the sports - that's what her therapist focused on. The treatment she provided worked, for a while. The ODD is what keeps her fighting me though, and makes it miserable for me. I don't know if she's going to go to an activity and glow with joy and wave happily at me, or glare at me in a rage and refuse to participate. The anxiety is interesting - I have a severe case of it myself, but it manifests so differently in me. I didn't recognize it at all in my daughter.

    That makes me feel SO much happy to hear that your son also could not wear out at a young age, but that finally the hyperactivity is gone!! Yay! I just laugh when people tell me "your daughter will sleep well tonight!" after some intense physical activity. Oh, if only. I think activity just winds her up. I'm such a low-key person and need peace around me, and it's all I can do to keep it together when she's body-slamming herself against the sofa that I'm sitting on.

    We do have a trampoline, by the way - all the neighbor kids and mine jump all day long. Great investment, at least to keep them in shape.

    I've finally gotten my ex to agree to give my son and I some "respite" (hopefully he will follow through - he never has before, but I have to insist) - my son and I are both drained from my daughter. She is so smart and creative, but I know I don't have to explain the absolute exhaustion and frustration she can bring out. I'm also going to cut her clonidine tabs in half (whole pill knocks her out), and try those when she's excessively hyper and anger, and hopefully add short-acting Ritalin at 4 PM when the Concerta wears off (have an appointment this week).

    Thanks again :)
  9. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    How about figure skating? There won't be much in the way of competitions at her age and it's a personal sport.
  10. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    One option that worked with mine was to be THAT parent who drops the kid off and comes back when it's done. It sounds to me like her stress is relates to you and the ex being there. My difficult child is that way. If I don't come I'm not loving her enough. If I do I'm suffocating her. My compromise was to take her and ask if she wanted me to stay for while.

    Just explain it to the coach and let them know why you do it. They can usually help with it.

    The hard part for me is I dreamed
    Of being that supportive there all the time mom and it wasn't an option. I felt robbed but it was what my kid needed.

    Sent using ConductDisorders mobile app
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Totally agree with the last post and it's what immediately jumped to my mind when I read the original post. Anxiety in a five year old is not innate - it is manufactured, I would venture to suggest.
  12. BlueTopaz

    BlueTopaz New Member

    A friend has her young daughter in figure skating -it's fiercely competitive :( . Though that's the team... of course there are just regular skating classes (for gymnastics too). I did drop her off at gymnastics, since it was 2 1/2 hours long - she'd either be fine with me leaving or throw a fit - impossible to know what she'd do. I'd give options, etc. Nothing worked until the therapist worked through her anxiety with her. I did find out that there's another soccer league that is only girls who are just learning the skills, and it's low stress. That sounds like a far better fit. She's been under a lot of stress this year - demanding kindergarten (switching to new much less high-pressure public school in fall), and a rather abrasive gymnastics coach. I've got her signed up for a low-key, all-fun camp with her brother for a few weeks this summer - she needs a break! They just play and go on the water slide and inflatables. Active, but not intense.
  13. Well, four of our kids are very good athletes (I have two stepsons). My husband is a great coach and has coached most of their sports. Child #4 took her sports seriously, and though she was very gifted athletically, she began to injure herself because her body wasn't ready for what her spirit was doing, if that makes sense. She had to GET THE BALL, so she would run so fast she would get avulsion fractures in her hip, where the muscle just tore away from bone. It meant so much to her, then she burned out. We happily let her quit at around age 13, where she turned to horses, and sport of all -- ROCK CLIMBING. It really wasn't good for this particular child to be as competitive as she was during her sports years. She started young, too. It's a good thing my husband was her coach, because he tempered her and has very good coaching wisdom.

    Our sons weren't allowed to play football until high school. Really, there are a lot of years to play sports. Just keep her physical. We had trampolines, tire swings and bicycles for our super-active kids. I recommend finding a good rock climbing gym. It will tire her out without stressing her out. It is very safe, and rock climbers are some of the coolest people I know. Best of luck. It's all hard to figure out, but you don't want her to get unsettling emotions associated with sports, so do what you need to do. Sports are supposed to be fun!
  14. justour2boys

    justour2boys Momto2Boys

    Don't give up, but do look outside the "mainstream sports" for a sport she might like. There are lots of sports/activities that she might find interest in, but it might take work on your part.

    Think really out of the box... rock climbing, skiing/snowboarding, diving or swimming, tennis, rowing, sailing, golf, archery, horse backing riding, ice skating, ice hockey or a martial art. You get the idea.

    Sometimes finding an out of the box "sport" can give our kids a place to shine!