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12 Year Old Daughter Wants to Try Out for Cheerleading

My 12 year old daughter recently announced that she wants to try out for the Junior High cheerleading squad. Here's the problem: my daughter has never done cheerleading or gymnastics and is not very coordinated. She took dance for 3 years, but wasn't very good at it. I don't want to hurt her feelings and I don't want her to get hurt (physically or emotionally). Kids at this age can be so cruel. I've tried asking questions like, "Why do you want to do cheerleading?" and "What do you know about cheerleading?" I didn't get a clear answer on the first and on the second she replied she had talked to one of the cheerleaders and she said it was "easy" and they don't have to do flips or anything. My daughters gifts are more in creative arts (writing and drawing, etc.) and academics. She is very smart and some kids think of her as a "nerd" and she knows this. Maybe she's trying to change her image. I don't know. I just don't know what to do.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

So, here's what happened . . . we let her try out. We bought her cheer try-out clothes and shoes and supported her. I watched her yesterday at the try-outs and was surprised. She did better than expected. Today was try-outs and she did NOT make the squad. The look on her face when she came out said it all. She was bawling. It was SO hard to see her hurt. But, I told her how proud I was for trying. Most girls are drawn to cheerleading, but not all of them are brave enough to even try out. I certainly wasn't and I told her so. I was proud of her for being brave and for trying her hardest. If she wants to try out again next year, I feel certain she'll work hard to prepare and we'll support her. If she doesn't, I'm sure she'll find something else she is passionate about and will excel at. I hate to see her hurting right now, but I'm glad I didn't hold her back and did let her try. She told me she felt like she wasted 5 days. I told her that 4 of those 5 days she enjoyed (she smiled) and 5 days was nothing in the big picture of her life. Who hasn't wasted more than 5 days on something that didn't work out? It's life. It's a learning experience and we grow from them. Sometimes growing is just painful.

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Be supportive of her and let her try out. Unless there is a medical reason for her not trying out then I'd let her go. If she makes it, she'll have so much fun! If she doesn't, then she might learn something about herself. I think if you shelter her though and don't let her try out, you're doing her a dis-service.

On a side note: My daughters did cheerleading with Texas Cheer and Dance. I have one that's not very coordinated. They taught her how to work with her body. It gave her confidence and she had so much fun!

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Let her try out. It's not a good idea to try to protect her from the world or squelch her dreams, even if they are unrealistic. Her friend might be right that it is easy. Many cheerleading teams ARE easy.

Kari F. said it perfectly.

1 mom found this helpful

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Be supportive of her and let her try out. Unless there is a medical reason for her not trying out then I'd let her go. If she makes it, she'll have so much fun! If she doesn't, then she might learn something about herself. I think if you shelter her though and don't let her try out, you're doing her a dis-service.

On a side note: My daughters did cheerleading with Texas Cheer and Dance. I have one that's not very coordinated. They taught her how to work with her body. It gave her confidence and she had so much fun!

2 moms found this helpful

My SIL- is 12... she has always been major tom boy athletic type. Would rather play with the boys then girls. Doesn't like hair and makeup,etc. Never took any of that either- not even dance, she twirls baton but isn't great (i can judge- i twirled from age 3 through highschool including teaching, would have twirled in college but had a child instead of going). She also decided that she wanted to try out for junior high cheerleading this year.She made it and is thrilled! So let her go for it. She may make it, may not but the experience is good for her. Don't discourage her but don't set her up for disappointment as well.
Let her try something new- maybe it is about changing her image. Maybe it is just something she would like to try. I don't think she will get hurt physically or emotionally by this experience. Yes kids can be cruel but if she doesn't make it she will not be the only one!
Hope this helps :)

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As hard as it may be to imagine people laughing at your little girl you need to let her do what she wants. I tried out for cheerleading in middle school because all my friends were doing it. I am NOT a dancer, gymnast or particularly graceful either and I did not make the cut. It was not a bad experience though as we worked in groups or with a partner and there were lots or girls who weren't great and didn't make it either. I had other interests, was a softball pitcher and would not have considered myself a nerd but not the most popluar girl either. I think at your daughter's age it's important for kids to find themselves and figure out what the are good at and enjoy doing, on their own. I look back on that now and laugh as (no offense to you cheerleaders) I figured out pretty quickly that I am not the cheerleader type and actually find the whole thing pretty silly. It's more than gymnastics, they are there to rally the school and cheer for a bunch of boys to win the game-not my personality AT ALL. Maybe she will get laughed at a little, maybe there will be others gilrs who are a lot worse than her or maybe she'll make the squad and find a real life passion. Who knows unless you let her make her own choice and give it a try.

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I'd let her try as well.

I was a cheerleader, I was a gymnast, and I was very good at it, but there were a lot of people on our squad who were not very good. We learned to adapt to everyone's strengths and weaknesses. I was, unfortunately, very strong, so I was always a base lifting up the smaller girls. I was also one of the only ones who could tumble.

I used to teach gymnastics as well, and I had a lot of smart, artistic kids whose parents made them take lessons for various reasons. We all knew they didn't have a future, but it was my job as the instructor to make it fun and to help them achieve their personal goals (no matter how small or large).

She'll probably grow out of the cheerleader phase quickly, but I'm going to guess it has to do with wanting to fit in because cheerleading is so big in TX. The only way we learn what we're good at, sometimes, is to first learn what we're not good at.

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Let her try out. It is a good experience even if she is not selected. We cannot always win, be chosen or always succeed. If she does get chosen it will be a great experience, if not, she will not have regrets for at least trying.It will help her get through other tough, scary and outside her comfort zone activities.

I always say, do your best so you never have any regrets. There is nothing worse than not even trying and realizing you had a good chance when you see who was selected.

As moms we want to protect our children's feelings and self esteem, but do not underestimate what your child can do and survive, especially if it something she is willing to work for..

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I would let her try out. When I was little I always wanted to be a cheerleader. I tried out in the 7th grade and made it for the 2nd semester. It was for basketball gymnastics, etc. It wasn't football season but I didn't care I had fun and did it one year. I was in basketball in the 8th and 9th instead of cheerleading. Encourage her and let her know that not everyone is going to make it and ask her how she would feel if she doesn't make it and go from there.

1 mom found this helpful

Let her try out. It's not a good idea to try to protect her from the world or squelch her dreams, even if they are unrealistic. Her friend might be right that it is easy. Many cheerleading teams ARE easy.

Kari F. said it perfectly.

1 mom found this helpful

I would let her do it. If she doesn't make it, it will just be one of those experiences where she looks back later in life saying, "What was I thinking?" I had a similar experience back in college. I rushed a little sister program and didn't make it. I'm a pretty shy person (and now a professional writer, so a lot like your daughter's strengths), but went through it because a couple other friends did. One friend made it in and I look back now and think I was so fortunate I didn't because the whole thing was just awful on so many levels. Even if she isn't accepted and is hurt, she won't be scarred for life. It's just a new life experience and something she can learn from, whether she makes it in or not.

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