Kids, Parenting

Kids trying new things…when to push?

This summer one of Ethan’s activities has been a local track club. He’d never tried track before, but a close friend was signing up and asked if he wanted to try it.

He had been a little unsure initially, even though I really think he’s pretty good at running/ has potential to be. (Unlike Asher, who has really never liked running on land too much 🙂

Ethan seems to have I think a pretty natural “runner’s build” in his body type, too, with the very slender arms and legs/not a husky build at all. I’ve always sort of thought he looks like a mini-version of guys I see out running.

So, in the back of my mind, I thought maybe he would end up getting into either cross country or track possibly someday? That might have totally been an assumption, though.

He is not always the biggest of fan of trying new things. He will, but he tends to be hesitant and seems to have a lot of stipulations about how things have to be.

So when track started up in June, he was a bit on the fence. We encouraged him to just try it! He needed to do something active, anyway. Turns out the practices were “fun” overall, but he didn’t seem totally sold on becoming the next Usain Bolt. 😆

The practices have just been twice a week and have given the kids the opportunity to try all the different events out, including things like long jump, shot put, etc. too. (I will say, I do not see Ethan as likely being very naturally good at the shot put, with his skinny little arms, but hey. It’s still fun to try new things!)

Last night they had an “intra-squad track meet”. (So not a “real” meet, but just a “for fun” meet to compete against each other.)

He was actually really unsure about even wanting to do it. He is used to competing in soccer, as a team, but was very uncomfortable about competing individually. I think he was nervous about having too many eyes on him, or worried that if he got seeded against much bigger/faster/more experienced kids or something he would be embarrassed if he lost.

Ugh. This was frustrating for us, as parents. I understand feelings of trepidation with new things, but honestly this was about as low key as a competition could get. It’s just a local YMCA program.

We also just really wanted him to sort of see this through, since he did agree to do the track program (which included the intra-squad meet…), and also to push himself out of his comfort zone a bit. We tried explaining that you can’t grow as a person if you just do the same things all the time.

He finally agreed to do TWO events out of the 3 max they could do. We signed him up for the 100 m and 200 m dash. I told him these would be nice and quick so it would be over fast. 🙂

He did just fine! There was a huge variety of abilities at the meet, as I had suspected there would be.

Some kids definitely looked like they had done this before and were quite good. Some kids didn’t seem to want to be there (like the little girl in the 1,600 m that yelled up to her dad in the bleachers, “You signed me up for this long event without asking me! I didn’t want to do this one!!” on lap 3 of 4 around the track. lol…).

Ethan was probably somewhere in the middle. Afterwards he sort of shrugged in a slightly-13-year-old styled way and basically said it was “okay”.

He said he overall liked the practices, but didn’t particularly care for the meet. Okay. Fair enough.

He also thought he was too slow. (We tried to explain- a) it doesn’t matter! and b) you have done like, 6 track practices in your entire life!! If you actually got into track, you would be training/ running/ etc. much, much more….. it takes TIME to improve.)

lining up for the 200 meter

I’m not sure if he will ever do it again, but at least he tried. And, it gave him a way to be physically active this summer (since soccer isn’t in session currently).

Who knows. I never really know how hard to “push” kids on things. I don’t like the idea of forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do. But, I think you also have to know your kid. I know Ethan can be hesitant about new things, but then many times he does end up ultimately enjoying them after he gets over the initial hurdle. So it makes it a bit tricky to navigate.

I think I am glad that we “made” him do the meet. He was really, really opposed to it at first. But he did it and he survived. I’m hopeful that now we can file this away as an example of a time he “didn’t want to do something”, did it anyway, and at least learned about something new/ grew a little bit as a human being. ?? Maybe?? 🙂

Okay, whew, this got longer than intended. Gotta run. We are heading to Six Flags Great America for the day with the boys. Let’s see if I can still hack the big roller coasters!! 😬😬 (I am honestly not sure if I can!!)

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for no rain today for our amusement park day!!

4 thoughts on “Kids trying new things…when to push?”

  1. I think you did the right thing to make him try it. Lizzy is also like that, not so willing to try new things but I notice the more times I make her try, the easier it becomes next time for her to try new things. it’s a practice to get out there and try as well… so I think as long as it’s not a total refusal, encouragement for just try and have fun could be our role as parents. at the end, we are guiding them and helping them to overcome their fears.


  2. I am not a parent but I was a very timid pre-teen/teen … I never would have tried track/cross-country unless my parents has “pushed” me. Once I joined the team, the coach figured out I had an ability in long distance running. I am NOT a sprinter. I need time to get to pace but once I get to pace I can hold that quick pace and most people die at the end, I just don’t. So I ended up breaking the school records in the 800, 1600, and 3200 (high school only) in junior high and high school. I even got a college scholarship to run cross country. It was quite a way to help me out financially! You never know till he tries and I think coaches should play a roll in picking the races, not the parents! lol! 😉


    1. Wow, Lindsay that’s so awesome!! I agree, sometimes kids need a little push. It’s a tough balance between letting them decide things for themselves but also not really having the maturity yet to always see the big picture of what could be/ how they might feel later about something. I think kids sometimes don’t understand some of the less obvious long term benefits of certain activities, either. (i.e. things they learn from team sports/activities that aren’t even about the results of the sport specifically, like sportsmanship, hard work, being coachable, working as a team, setting goals, etc.) We’ll see if he ever tries track again! I love your story- just think if you hadn’t given track a try. I bet you are SO glad you did. 🙂


  3. The story about the girl yelling at her parent about signing her up for the 1600 is funny! I do think it’s good to push kids to try different things. Our son is only 3 but I can already tell that getting him to do new things is often going to be tough, hence the swimming lessons challenge we are currently experiencing. It sounds like Ethan does not like individual sports and prefers to be on a team. I was the exact opposite. I did not like team sports because I am just not athletic (at least not the typical definition of athletic – I think I can say I am athletic to some extent after running marathons and such). So I felt like I was the weak link/let the team down. I prefer individual sports because then I was not letting anyone down, unless I was in a relay!

    I hope your AC got fixed! 🙂


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