Kavya is not a very…

Kavya is not a very physical child. By that I mean that her favorite activities are drawing and coloring (which she will do obsessively for long, long stretches of time) and storytelling / pretend play with dolls or doll-substitutes. She does occasionally like to run sprints and time herself (she is not fast, but we don't mention that), and she likes to clamber around on our couch. But that's about it, in terms of physical activity.

We have tried her on soccer balls, baseball, etc. in our backyard with no real interest on her part. She took swim classes all summer and was terrible at them (the most scared in her class, the most weepy, the least willing to put her face in, etc.), although she did actually go, which is something. She recently went to a kindergarten gymnastics birthday party and broke down in tears three times while the other twenty kids (mostly girls, all her age) cheerfully ran through the equipment. She is definitely scared of heights.

And while we thought kindergarten was sufficiently intensive that we didn't want to put her in any other classes right away, this trend is really worrying me, and I would like her to be more comfortable with her body and more confident in its capabilities.

I am thinking in January might be a good time to start a new physical class, but I'm not sure whether to put her in gymnastics (on the plus side, a friend of hers is in it, on the minus side, tears and no interest whatsoever), karate (which lots of folks have said good things about), or something else. (We'll almost certainly do swim again next summer.) Any advice would be very welcome. If we make a decision soon, then we'll have all of December to talk it up to her and try to get her excited about it.

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6 thoughts on “Kavya is not a very…”

  1. Ballet? It is hard to imagine that she would not like it, based upon what you have said about her. Just be sure to find a teacher who will not put her into pointe shoes until she is at least twelve years old.

  2. Karate! My older son (7) is in karate & the girls actually outnumber the boys most weeks at the dojo (which is a room in a strip mall, not fancy). It’s a great emphasis on physical and mental discipline, body control, and strength. In fact, I keep thinking that I want to look into their beginner adult class series.

    My younger son (5) just announced that he wants desperately to play hockey…ugh…I told him he gets a winter of skating lessons first & can try hockey next winter if he still wants to.

  3. In my experience as a parent, little girls who want to play up the frilly feminine motif love ballet and want to do it when they see it.

    In my experience as an [unsuccessful] ballet dancer, it is a great way to get such girls, and boys so inclined, to be more physical and athletic.

  4. I agree with the other commenters about ballet, or jazz, or tap, or anything that has frilly cute dresses that she’ll get to wear when performing. I took ballet at a young age (4?) and it was one of the best things my parents ever did for me.

  5. I don’t think it matters what it is, so much as the style of the class. It’s more work for you, but this is what you really want:

    1) A class where they don’t take the activity too seriously. They should try to make it fun for the kids, rather than emphasizing development or competition.

    2) A class where the rest of the kids are not significantly better at the activity than your daughter.

    To give a couple examples:

    Katie took dance at a local studio and she should have loved it because she loves dancing, being on stage and dressing up. Unfortunately, they are way too concerned about technical abilities and trying to groom future experts. They are just too serious about dance and my daughter hated the classes – even tap which she’d been looking forward to with glee. I think she’d enjoy classes from another location which was looking to train kids to move with enjoyment rather than technique, but it will be hard to get her to try another dance class with an open mind (note: she did dance from age 3 to 5 with her getting more unhappy each year. She also wanted to like it, but just didn’t).

    2) Soccer is big in Seattle and many kids have been taking it since age 3 from a place called Arena Sports. This is the kind of place you want to avoid because the classes (even beginning) will almost certainly be full of kids who are much more skilled than Kavi. This will not make her enjoy the sport. We put Katie in a class through the local community center and she liked it a lot – until they started doing scrimmage games. Then it turned out that 2 kids in the class were so much more skilled than the others that they always ran the ball. Those 2 kids are happy but the others aren’t. The coach has spoken to the parents about placing the kids in much more advanced classes in the future, but the demoralization has already taken place. But it was almost a good experience.

    3) Swimming: Katie wasn’t that fond of swimming until we found a local pool which was MUCH WARMER and MUCH SHALLOWER than most pools. We switched to a great pool which actually has great instructors and now things are great. She’s in the big kid classes cheerfully diving into 12 foot deep water and her back crawl is awesome (front crawl still needs a little work, but she’s happy working on it)

    Anyway, I think the tone and composition of the class will end up being more important than the actual class.

    If the friend is much more skilled than Kavi, it might be bad to have her in the class.

    You could try dragging her to some local contra-dancing night. Some of them like to have kids about and getting to go out at night to a grownup place might be entrancing. Especially since she’d need a skirt that twirls.

  6. I wonder if this might be an introvert thing. I was a totally unphysical child but I loved ice skating. (I believe watching the winter olympics was a major factor.) And by extension, roller skating. I also liked other solo stuff that didn’t involve having to coordinate with other people — swings, bicycling around the block by myself — where it was possible to be alone and dreamy and in pretend-world. Hula hoops and jump rope were good if I didn’t feel like people were watching me. Maybe try a skateboard?

    I generally had no interest in doing physical things with other kids. Adults were sometimes ok. I did NOT like anything that involved other people being faster/stronger/more hand-eye coordinated than me in any way, or trying to make me do something pointless involving a ball.

    I probably would have liked yoga. I’ve seen some books/videos (sorry don’t know where exactly) that give kiddie fun instructions, like meowing and mooing in cat-cow pose, making a boat really strong, etc. My nieces have enjoyed doing these with me.

    My goddaughter loves dancing with Yo Gabba Gabba on video.

    I was initially interested in ballet but quit after they made us youngest, least skilled kids be chickens in a performance. Didn’t quite fit with my idea of elegant glamour. 🙂

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