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I know I can't make him - long rant/ramble.
Old 02-08-2020, 10:03 AM
  #1

My son is 9, and I want him to care about something extracurricular...like anything...at all.

We tried football, nope. We tried b-ball, nope. We tried soccer, nope. He's in karate now, and I took him to a forms workshop this morning. When we left, the instructor told him to keep practicing his forms this weekend and at Monday's class he might be able to earn a stripe on his belt. When we got home, I told him to practice for about 10 minutes while everything was still fresh in his mind. Holy. Crap. You'd have thought I asked him to swim the Atlantic.

I got the whining, the crying. I told him to suck it up and do it because he's not quitting, so he might as well practice and be good at it. We've had MAJOR issues with him being ungrateful in general these days, as well as whining and crying when he's asked to do something he doesn't want to do, so I'm 100% over it.

I'm hoping that once he gets his first stripe, he'll see his practice has paid off and find a little inner motivation. Up until now, all he's tried have been team sports, so he's practiced with the team, but there's been little motivation to really apply himself. He's been totally fine with little playing time or having to do push-ups and run because he isn't doing something right. I really want him to know that he's capable of accomplishing things on his own. He's been having major issues with bullies (and I don't throw that term around loosely) and won't stand up for himself. So, I'm hoping this will give him a little confidence in himself and his own abilities.

He is an only child, so he needs to be around other kids outside of school. I think he's also inherited my weight struggles, so it's important to me that he has regular physical activity.

Like I said, I know I can't make him care; however, there are things I tried as a kid that I wish my parents would have pushed me harder on and not have let me give up and quit. The hard thing is that he's a really good kid. He's polite, kind, and respectful. So, I feel like an a$$hole parent pushing him in this. My new plan is to start making him earn screen time by practicing and doing his chores.

Geez, this parenting gig is hard.


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Old 02-08-2020, 10:18 AM
  #2

Sounds like he just hasn't found anything as of yet that interests or motivates him. It also doesn't sound like he likes contact sports.

He might be an introvert (not a thing wrong with that!) and just doesn't enjoy all that goes with team sports, crowds, being around too many people.

Maybe there is something where he can set his own goal to achieve? Might he be interested in boy scouts, or rock climbing, or swimming? /Might he set his own jogging goals?

Quote:
, there are things I tried as a kid that I wish my parents would have pushed me harder on and not have let me give up and quit.
We can't fulfill our childhood wishes through our children.


Quote:
I think he's also inherited my weight struggles, so it's important to me that he has regular physical activity.
Maybe he's been bullied about his weight and feels self conscious about being around others in team activities?

You said he is polite, kind and respectful. Those are all wonderful qualities that you must have passed on to him!!
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Old 02-08-2020, 10:19 AM
  #3

Does the extra curricular need to be active? Maybe you can encourage activity as an independent/family activity. Like walking together or going to the park or bike riding. Some video games can be active too.

As for extra curriculars, theater has been a wonderful place for both of my kids. What about music or scouting or 4H? I know it's less common, but sometimes there are video game clubs/camps for kids. We have a children's museum that does LEGO clubs and coding clubs after school.
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9 year old
Old 02-08-2020, 10:20 AM
  #4

I know you mention you want him doing something physical, but none of those choices worked out. So what about other sorts of activities? Scouts, 4-H, drama for example. I do like the earning screen time ideas a lot!
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Old 02-08-2020, 10:32 AM
  #5

Quote:
He's been having major issues with bullies (and I don't throw that term around loosely) and won't stand up for himself.
Quote:
He is an only child,
Quote:
he's also inherited my weight struggles
Parenting is indeed really hard. The three points above got my attention.

Years ago I had a student like your son in my class. He was taller and heavier than his classmates and was a bullying target. He was also an only child who did not have any friends.

The parents blamed me for the bullying even though it was out of my control. They were inexperienced parents who doted on their son and gave in again and again. The boy was treated like a little king at home because mom was Hispanic, and that is part of the culture.

We had a number of meetings in which I recommended karate or taekwondo for self esteem and exercise, as well as a daily routine of chores at home to teach him more responsibility. The parents were very much against karate because they thought of it as a violent activity in which he could get hurt, but after I gave them lots of evidence to the contrary, they reluctantly signed him up. It took several different dojos to get a good fit. Not all karate studios are the same, so that may be why your son has little motivation to practice.

The family moved to another area the following year, but I ran into dad and son two years later. Dad expressed gratitude for the advice on karate, and son proudly told me that he had a black belt. He seemed well-adjusted and had slimmed down to a healthy BMI.


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Old 02-08-2020, 10:36 AM
  #6

Let me speak as an only child and introvert.

Quote:
He is an only child, so he needs to be around other kids outside of school.
If he is an introvert, he has had all of the people he needs at school. After a day full of school, I needed down time to recharge. Too much interaction is seriously overwhelming. I am still like this. After a day full of people, having to continue in an activity that involves people is draining.

I have zero natural athletic ability and as an introvert, having to be part of a group was torturous. I tried all kinds of different things, but I could stop if I wanted. No argument. No reasons necessary.

Eventually I found that I am a more artistic-minded person. Piano lessons, concert band, marching band, painting classes, sewing, cooking, gardening. I would very happily participate in things that allowed me to be focused on my own individual skills.

Some of my friends with introverted and/or less athletic children have found that sports like golf and archery have been a big hit. DSS is an extrovert, but not athletic. He did some sports as a child, but it was not his thing. He flourished in theater.

Keep letting him try, but don't make him feel bad when he doesn't like something. At 9 he might just not have the right skills yet to tell you exactly why he isn't liking something, so he resorts to crying and defiance.

Hopefully he will find the very thing he loves soon.
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Old 02-08-2020, 10:37 AM
  #7

Have you tried asking him what heíd like to do?

Son, you have to choose an extracurricular activity. What would you like to do?

That way he has ownership of the activity and might be more willing to participate. If he chooses something that isnít active, then make an hour of physical activity a family goal. Go to the park, walk the dog, ride your bikes. You could even help an elderly neighbor. May be you have a neighbor that has a dog in need of walking or a yard in need of raking that cannot physically do it themselves.

Making him do something for which he has no passion is just going to cause resentment and stress. Hang in there mom, youíre doing a good job if youíve raised a nice, polite kid.
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Parenting Is a Challenge
Old 02-08-2020, 10:47 AM
  #8

I hope he does earn that stripe on his belt and that then he is motivated to practice on his on.

Karate can help a child with spacial awareness in relationship to his own body which can help with any and all movement.

It also teaches discipline so I believe you have him in a good program.

Have you considered doing something social as well. When my boys were young we joined Indian Guides through the YMCA. It is called Adventure Guides today. I liked it better than boy scouts because there were boys and girls involved with them. We had meetings, did hikes, day trips, camping.... It was a great deal of fun for all families involved and I was there with them to help. It might be something to consider.

I wish you the best. Hang in there!
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Old 02-08-2020, 10:50 AM
  #9

Iím not sure karate is a good choice. In my experience karate classes tend to be populated with introverted only children whose parents want them to do something athletic and it may not be the environment that would help him grow unless he is highly motivated on his own. You might want to try swimming or golf if you are set on sports.

I agree with pp that theater would be a good activity. Or provide family outings that are active like hiking.
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Old 02-08-2020, 10:53 AM
  #10

Try something that isn't sports oriented like music, art, or other more creative activities. Some kids just aren't into athletics. There must be something he loves. What does he do with his free time?


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Old 02-08-2020, 11:04 AM
  #11

I agree that parenting is soooooo hard.

Is he choosing these activities?

I see two goals: socialization and physical activity.

Maybe try getting the physical activity with fun family outings: ice skating, roller skating, hikes, etc. He may finds something he loves. Or maybe not.

My son (now a teenager) tried many different activities. Look for 4-6 week classes at a community center, or look for single day events that may spark interest. Chess, coding, model airplane flying, and fencing are a few of the things my son tried over the years.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:10 AM
  #12

I agree with the suggestion to try a non-sport activity. My parents kept signing me up for sports when I was younger. I don't have an athletic bone in my body and hated them all. They thought I was "not trying" when really I just wasn't good at any of them! We all have different talents. In 5th grade I joined band and I was very good at it- always first chair when they started doing that whole thing in MS. I also had a ready made supportive friend circle when I transitioned to HS. I also like the suggestion to tell him he has to participate in something, but he can choose what.
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What does he like?
Old 02-08-2020, 11:19 AM
  #13

Really, why does he have to like physical activity? Sure, it would be nice, but at least for now he doesn't like it--or perhaps doesn't like someone else pushing him to do something he doesn't want to do. With the bullying, he's got more than enough of that.

So what does he like to do when he has a choice? Draw? Read? Listen to music? Play video games? Figure out ways to give him new experiences connected to HIS interests, not what an adult (even a loving parent) thinks would be good for him.

A bonus is that when he is happier with who he is, he is likely to conduct himself with confidence. That confidence tends to be off-putting to bullies. He may be able to defend himself--or alternatively he won't particularly care about what someone else might say to or about him. Either way he wins.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:21 AM
  #14

Some kids are introverts and some kids are sensitive to how other people feel. Those kinds of kids often have trouble with team sports and adversarial sports. My GS (10) is quite fit and coordinated but he won't do any more team sports because it makes him really uncomfortable to be around kids who are being forced to play them. I'm sure this isn't you, but some parents are downright mean to kids about their performance on a team. It was miserable for him to have to be around that even though nobody was treating him that way.

From the standpoint of fitness, I think it's important to help kids find physical activities that they truly enjoy and can continue to do as adults. From that standpoint, forcing a kid into a sport is probably counterproductive.

From the standpoint of interacting with other kids, Destination ImagiNation has been a really good activity for my GS (who is also an only child). He LOVES it, especially the collaborative process.

He has also gone to nature camps that he really enjoyed. This involved some exercise, too, since they hike all over a wildlife refuge studying various types of nature. He was a willing participant in swimming classes (despite overzealous parents grooming their kids for swim teams) because he knew I wouldn't take him canoing or kayaking until he was a competent swimmer. We also have bike trails around here and he's perfectly willing to get out and bike with me but part of the motivation there is also nature study.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:37 AM
  #15

Quote:
He is an only child, so he needs to be around other kids outside of school.
Actually, he doesnt. I hated being forced to do stuff with kids After school. I just wanted to be alone.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:39 AM
  #16

Thanks for all the replies and insight! I greatly appreciate them all.

He's not an introvert. The kid can talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime, about anything. He's really outgoing. Like his first time at karate, he just went and sat with a group of kids and started talking to them like he's known them his entire life.

They practiced sparring his first night at karate. He didn't have any problem getting in there and exchanging with his partner. The next night they did grappling, and it was the same thing. So, I don't think the contact bothers him. He isn't real athletically inclined, he's really stocky and barrel chested, so it's kind of like he's doesn't really know how to use his body. If that makes sense? Grappling was his gig, though. Once he got on top of a kid, they couldn't shake him. Maybe he's just too lazy to practice outside of class.

He's the VP of his 4H chapter; however, our 4H leader isn't really a leader. They aren't active in anything. Basically all they do is meet once a month and do crafts and eat snacks.

We're in a rural area, so there aren't a lot of other options as far as other activities go. I gave him the choice of karate or Cross Fit, and he chose karate. Physical activity is important to me because he's going to have weight issues. It is what it is with that. I don't want that for him because I've lived with it my entire life and was bullied because of it. I NEVER make a big deal about it and NEVER mention it as a reason why I want him to be involved in something physical.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:53 AM
  #17

Well, instead of making him do something he's not happy with, why not do mother-son physical activities like walking, running, or biking? You spend time together. You both get exercise. Win-win.
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:55 AM
  #18

Quote:
He's not an introvert. The kid can talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime, about anything. He's really outgoing. Like his first time at karate, he just went and sat with a group of kids and started talking to them like he's known them his entire life.
Of course, you know your child, but I just want to mention that an "introvert" is not necessarily a person who can't talk to people or be outgoing. You are an "introvert" if being around other people is not what renews and refreshes you. Some introverts have excellent social skills - sometimes better than extroverts because they are more able to step back and observe.
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Old 02-08-2020, 01:54 PM
  #19

Neither of my kids enjoyed any kind of group sport but both excelled in band, which was their main activity in school. Church youth group was the other. Our forays into team sports just didn't go anywhere, they weren't interested.

Like others have suggested, they kept active riding bikes, going on family walks and hikes, etc. Fortunately they take after their dad and weight has never been an issue for them. We used to go to a local playground most nights after dinner and play. We have a dog, so playing with her and walking her was a major source of physical activity for them as well.
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Old 02-08-2020, 03:01 PM
  #20

I do agree that he should be in some sort of extra-curricular activities. Team sports arenít for everyone and it sounds like you are finding alternatives for him. He might like wrestling, if he likes the grappling part of karate. My kids didnít really like practicing things outside the lesson/activities either. We made sure to include family fun. Sometimes they called it FFF (Forced Family Fun). Hiking, swimming, playing board games, movies, etc.

Donít take this the wrong way but you canít out-exercise a bad diet. Weight struggles are more about what people eat than how much they exercise.

Parenting is hard!
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Old 02-08-2020, 03:02 PM
  #21

I hated joining things. My sister loved Girl Scouts. I was made to join the Brownies when I was 5. I had to go to a least two meetings before I could quit. I hated those meetings with a passion. I can remember sitting through the activities and just wishing it would be over. I am a Brownie drop out, and Iím okay with that. I am an adult who survived not being in an activity as a kid. I rode horses, swam, and hiked. I was not one of the popular kids, but I was not bullied either. You are the parent, and you have to do what is right for your child, but make sure it is what is really right for your child.
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Old 02-08-2020, 03:27 PM
  #22

Sometimes kids just need some unstructured time. Perhaps keep up the karate lessons if he enjoys them and stop asking him to practice at home. The structured school day is already a drain on a child that age.

Last edited by anna; 02-08-2020 at 05:37 PM..
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Old 02-08-2020, 03:29 PM
  #23

You are a good mom to be looking out for him like that!
I'm torn between two different schools of thought: one is, if he's not into it, then maybe you two can exercise together (like doing walks or hikes) and he can do a different extracurricular activity.
The other part of me thinks, maybe he needs to stick with something a while before giving it up and maybe it's just that he hasn't done it long enough to get really into it. My DD has always done a variety of activities. At some point or another, she'll likely tell me she doesn't want to do it....sometimes because she just felt like doing nothing and sometimes because it was a new activity and she just wasn't great at it yet.
Sounds like your DS is relatively new to karate. Can you come up with a plan for him to see how long he wants to try it? I told DD she needed to do a year/season/class of whatever before quitting it and, after it was done, we could consider other options of activities. For me, doing nothing wasn't an option because I know DD and she'd just sit at home with her phone or iPad. (I"m okay with chill out time. I'm not okay when that's all she does.)
Anyway, best of luck and lots of sympathy!!
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Old 02-08-2020, 03:33 PM
  #24

You pretty much described my youngest. He's tried it all over the years - football, soccer, t-ball, hockey, basketball, track, etc. No no no. He's really not a team sport kind of kid. He's really not an active kid. He likes gaming, math, making videos, stuff like that. However, suddenly he has found mountain biking. He loves it. He doesn't want to race but joined a team just to go on the rides and do the skills with them. He even takes a spin class to increase his stamina. I would have never picked it for him, but he found it on his own. I'm thrilled that he's found something active that he enjoys! I guess that's just to say don't give up. Your son will hopefully find something, and it may be the last place you'd think to look. In the meantime try and be active together (which can be easier said than done, I know).


My other two tried everything as well, and both picked things that were not necessarily what they were best at or what I would have chosen for them. But they are both happy and committed to their respective activities, and there's never any fighting over practice and such because it is what they chose to do.
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Old 02-08-2020, 04:01 PM
  #25

Thanks again for the thoughts.

DH talked to him about it, and DS said he liked karate but learning the forms were hard. So if he likes it, but doesnít want to put the work in because itís ďhard,Ē isnít going to fly with me. Iím kind of a mean momma sometimes. I donít want him to quit something because itís hard, and this is seriously only his 3rd week.

I donít think he has to be into a sport per se, but he does need something going on other than school. Like I mentioned earlier, our geographic location (small rural area) doesnít offer a lot. Karate is basically the only thing other than school related sports around here. Our school doesnít offer band.

Iíd be fine if he had an activity he was interested in that wasnít sports related, but he doesnít. He does play outside and ride his bike, but I want him to have something structured that is going to instill some sort of discipline and intrinsic motivation. Because, TBH, I see him half-assing things, and I donít want that for him. Please donít flame me for that, itís the way I feel.

He likes to go with DH and his uncle to check cows and feed, and Iíd be 100% okay with that being his passion in life. However, we live smack dab in the middle of town ATM, so itís kind of impossible for that to be a consistent thing for him.
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Old 02-08-2020, 06:49 PM
  #26

I can empathize. My DD tried soccer and tee-ball with disastrous results. She hated both of them. So, DH and I decided to try another approach and enrolled her in theater classes and signed her up for violin lessons. The theater program is surprisingly active because they play lots of games and dance.

Parenting is so hard! Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Old 02-09-2020, 02:43 AM
  #27

As a child I may have acted that way if as soon as I got home from the activity I was asked to practice. Sure, you are right that practicing the forms right then would have been helpful to him, but so would allowing him to do it later or not at all and face the consequences of the choice. It isn't worth the power struggle with him. Monday will come around, some kids will get a stripe and he won't. Then if he complains you can just tell him that if he had practiced his forms he may not be in that situation.

He is probably wanting some control in his choices.

It sounds more like he just wants to have fun in his free time. You want his activities to be character building, instructional, and a commitment to others. Seems you two don't want the same thing right now.
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Old 02-09-2020, 07:00 AM
  #28

"DH talked to him about it, and DS said he liked karate but learning the forms were hard."

Yes. They are hard. Also there was pressure to learn them by Monday (plus the push to practice them so he could know them by Monday and succeed). Maybe he needs to know that if it takes him longer to learn them, that is ok too.

He is frustrated with difficult thing. There isn't anything uncommon about that. Sometimes the best way to handle this is to take the pressure off and let him learn at a slower pace. Let him know you understand that he is frustrated and as he learns the skills he will be less frustrated. If he talks about wanting to keep up with the others, then the conversation turns to ways he thinks he can learn quicker. At some point, he will realize he either has to practice outside of class or take more classes.

My suggestion is to take the pressure off. Let him just take the classes for a while. It isn't about how fast you earn the stripes, just that eventually you learn them and learn them well.
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:35 AM
  #29

Can he get together with someone in class to practice? If not can DH or you practice with him? Make it a more social experience. Learning martial arts will change the way he carries himself, hopefully making him more confident and less a target of bullies.

Has your son been able to talk to a good counselor or therapist about what happened with bullying? A good one can help a lot.

Your son sounds like a wonderful boy!
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Old 02-09-2020, 12:53 PM
  #30

Quote:
So if he likes it, but doesnít want to put the work in because itís ďhard,Ē isnít going to fly with me. Iím kind of a mean momma sometimes. I donít want him to quit something because itís hard, and this is seriously only his 3rd week.
Good for you!

Quote:
Our school doesnít offer band.
Not at all? Or just not until he's older? Around here, they often don't start band until middle school but I don't think I've heard of a district that doesn't offer it at all. That's sad. :-(
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Old 02-09-2020, 02:33 PM
  #31

Quote:
Can he get together with someone in class to practice? If not can DH or you practice with him? Make it a more social experience. Learning martial arts will change the way he carries himself, hopefully making him more confident and less a target of bullies.

Has your son been able to talk to a good counselor or therapist about what happened with bullying? A good one can help a lot.

Your son sounds like a wonderful boy!


Thank you. He doesn't know anyone in his class well enough to practice, but DH and I have been practicing with him, and he's doing really well. I hope it helps. He hasn’t talked to a counselor or anything. I mentioned talking to our school counselor, and he lost it.

Quote:
So if he likes it, but doesn’t want to put the work in because it’s “hard,” isn’t going to fly with me. I’m kind of a mean momma sometimes. I don’t want him to quit something because it’s hard, and this is seriously only his 3rd week.
Good for you!

Quote:
Our school doesn’t offer band.
Not at all? Or just not until he's older? Around here, they often don't start band until middle school but I don't think I've heard of a district that doesn't offer it at all. That's sad. :-(


Not at all. I agree, it's really sad. My niece and nephew excelled in band. My niece even joined her college's color guard. IDK where they'd be without it. It's such a great option for kids who aren't athletic.
And this is because the message says I need at least 10 characters...so here it is.

Last edited by checkerjane; 02-09-2020 at 05:21 PM..
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:58 PM
  #32

To get him outside and active, think about maybe doing geocaching with him- cheap, engaging and involves hiking.
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Outschool
Old 02-10-2020, 01:44 AM
  #33

You might also consider some Outschool classes. While some are traditional "school" type classes, they also have things like music, private lessons, Pokemon, minecraft, etc. They have classes for kids 3-8. My daughter (6) has taken a number of them and likes them a lot. We've done 2 science, 1 art, and 1 music so far.

https://outschool.com/?signup=true&u...re_invite_link

This is my referral link--we both get money off if you sign up with it. Otherwise, just google outschool.
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