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Mondays With The Mamas: How Hard Should We Push Our Kids?

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Ferdinand The Bull (Photo: Niranjan Martin)

By Sam Kurtzman-Counter, TMC President

My son, Jack, is many things: witty, precocious, careful, considerate, brazen, hilarious, artistic, competitive, thoughtful, kind – and also at any point exactly the opposite of all these things. He is also extremely physically agile and strong, one of those kids who quickly excels at pretty much any physical challenge that presents itself to him. He is very attracted to Type-A sporty boys at school as well, and though he’s never expressed interest in joining a sport, we’ve found ourselves contemplating frequently whether we should nudge him into one.

We’ve seen many parents who started their boys in sports at age 2, play ball with them in the yard daily, take them to pro games, enroll them in sport after sport throughout the year. And most often I see those boys loving it – it’s clear that they have a passion for it. But Jack hasn’t shown that passion yet.

So I’m constantly wondering: how hard should we push?

We enrolled him in T-ball this spring (his first team sport) and I’d say it was a success: while he did complain pretty much any time I’d ask how it was going (“I hate T-ball”) he didn’t really fight it, got his uniform on each week without a struggle, actually seemed to enjoy it, even if he didn’t say so. But most of the time, I noticed that he seemed quite a bit more taken with drawing pictures in the sand than paying attention to the game (I mean, really, who can blame him – it’s gotta be pretty boring in the outfield). In fact, I found out that a couple of team parents named him (lovingly) “Ferdinand the Bull” – grazing, peaceful, not so into the agro team spirit, more into the glory of the moment in the field, in the sun, just waiting… waiting… waiting for the ball.

So I’m constantly wondering: how hard should we push?

The Slugger (photo: Niranjan Martin)

At games, I often found myself channeling my college-scholarship-broken-nose-from-football-playing father: “Come on, Jack – be at the ready! That ball could come your way any minute!” But I’m telling you: that kid could hit. And run faster than a speeding bullet. And I was proud. But honestly, I also had moments of appreciating equally that he was grazing, finding peace in the outfield, perhaps a bit more interested in patterns in the sand than “winning” the game (there wasn’t really any winning in this league anyway…)

But I also see what a huge benefit team sports bring to kids (and Jack is an only – I feel like he can get so very much from that kind of camaraderie) and I (and the coaches, PE teachers, etc) see that he has enormous potential to excel in sports.

So I’m constantly wondering: how hard should we push?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Please share your thoughts/anecdotes/musings about this topic below in the comments section. We love hearing from you!

The Mother Company aims to support parents and their children, providing thought-provoking web content and products based in social and emotional learning for children ages 3-6. Check out episodes of our “Ruby’s Studio” children’s video series, along with our beautiful children’s books, apps, music, handmade dolls, and more.

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