Maybe Your Child’s Just Not Ready Yet!
Nowadays we are bombarded with classes for our babies and toddlers. There is gym class, dance class, football class, rugby class……………. The possibilities for our toddlers in the 21st century seem endless.
I love taking my son to his football class just as I did his three brothers before him. He turned two a few weeks ago and has been going for six months. He looks forward to going and gets excited when he puts his special kit on in the morning. He races around kicking balls and does pretty much what the coaches tell him. I love it because he loves it.
It wasn’t always this way though. When he first started going he would say ‘no’ when I asked him if he wanted to go to football. He would wriggle and cry when I put him on my lap in the circle where he had to pay attention for five minutes. He would scream when he had to wait his turn to score a goal. He even went through a stage of rushing to the door trying to escape.
He is my fourth son though so I didn’t even bat an eyelid. I knew that there was nothing wrong with him, he just wasn’t ready to sit and listen and follow instructions yet. I put on my ‘everything is ok’ smile and battled through it.
Today, I saw a mum going through the trauma of feeling like she was the only one with a ‘nightmare child’ in the class. I could tell that she was getting increasingly stressed as her son refused to join in and charged around the room whilst the other children were sitting nicely waiting their turn to score a goal. I tried to catch her eye to give her a little smile to show her that it was ok and she wasn’t alone but she didn’t want to make eye contact. I could tell that she was counting down the seconds until she could escape from this situation where she felt all eyes were on her.
I wanted to tell her that I had seen many children behave that way, mine included! I wanted to tell her that no-one was thinking badly of her and the opinion of the few that may be judging her was not worth caring about anyway. I wanted to tell her that we sometimes expect too much of our children these days and we need to remind ourselves that they are still babies really. I wanted to tell her that some children just don’t like being forced into situations like this and that was ok. As grownups we don’t all like doing a sport or an activity with others. Not all children are the same and whereas some will love it, others won’t.
I will never forget a mum at one of my sons football classes refusing to join in with her child as her two year old stood there crying as ‘she had to learn to be independent’. She was two years old for crying out loud!
It is ok if your child isn’t ready to join in with the others yet. It is ok if your child refuses to kick a ball into a net just because the other kids are all doing it. It is ok if your child clings to you whilst all of the other children are joining in. They just aren’t ready yet.
I remember my eldest standing looking lost on the football pitch as we forced him to be part of the team because his dad was the coach. Three years later, he is four belts away from a black belt in karate because we let him make his own choice about what he wanted to do when he was old enough to decide.
My six year old who refused to play football at three years old is now a talented defender after going back to football at the age of five – when he felt ready!
My four year old hasn’t yet decided what he wants to do and that is ok. We aren’t going to push him into anything and when he grows in confidence and tells us he is ready to do football or karate or whatever he chooses to do, we will support him 100%.
So next time you worry that your child isn’t enjoying what should be a fun toddler class, please remember that it isn’t the end of the world and maybe your child’s just not ready yet.