I was watching my daughter do her floor routine in gymnastics yesterday when a few tears welled up in my eyes. I can remember when she first started. Now a level five competitive gymnast, every single move matters and if done wrong, are point deductions. While it seems simple for the girls on her team to nail a routine, whether floor, bars, vault or beam, Paris fights for every point. Gymnastics doesn’t come easy for her -yet I’ve come to love that she has to fight. When the day arrives she gets her first 9.5 or 10, it will mean so much more to her because she had to earn it.
As I sat watching, a mother looked over and said, “My daughter is five and she just got on the team. She is so advanced, it’s crazy. She then went on to tell me that she is gifted, doing fifth grade work, and that they don’t know what they are going to do with her in regards to her schooling. Switch schools or move her up a grade or two.” Not knowing her at all, I responded, “Why don’t you just let her be a kid and have fun?” Oh boy, that wasn’t probably good- but the girl is five. She went on to tell me that she is in gymnastics, cheerleading and some other sport and that because she is so intellectual it was advised to keep her busy or else the child might get bored. God forbid.
The kid is five. Yet somehow she is expected to have the work ethic, drive, and responsibility of a thirty five year old. Talk about pressure. Setting expectations for a five, ten or fifteen year old at this level can be absolutely detrimental to their development. While it’s easy to be competitive and want our kids to be the best at everything, we must remember that it’s important to their development to struggle and fail, as much as it is to succeed.
If our children are always the best, they will never truly experience the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a strong work ethic- Moving from number seven on the team to number one, getting a C grade up to an A, or confronting a fear of public speaking by taking a part in the school play.
If our kids have it all before they even graduate high school, what is left for them to fight for? I so worry our daughters will not have the chance to be girls, to have fun, laugh, make mistakes, play with dolls, and just be girls- due to our insatiable need to have them be a direct reflection of ourselves.
For most of us, the pressure in life didn’t begin until we were in our twenties and for some, their thirties. We had time to figure out what we wanted to be, to change course and to discover our passions. It was in these times that we found our girl- the one who believed she could do anything, who was fearless, fun, spontaneous and full of adventure. What will happen to our daughters if we don’t let them do the same? Forget Get Your Girl Back, they won’t even know what I’m talking about! So- as you strive to get your girl back remember to let your daughter have their chance to simply be a girl. If you don’t have a daughter but a son, a niece or nephew you love, remember this lesson. For childhood shall pass in the blink of an eye. They have the rest of their lives to be adults. As my niece Kayla recently posted on her Facebook page, “I couldn’t wait to get out of school and be a grown up. Today I wish I could just go back and be a kid again. It’s rough out here.”
Do you remember your girl? Download the first chapter of my book, Get Your Girl Back, and retrace who she was, what she was like and most importantly, how to bring her back, front and center! http://gygb.com/gygb-chapter-one/
Written by Traci Bild, Founder of the Get Your Girl Back movement