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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.

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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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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.

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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

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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I would let her try out. She might prove you wrong and actually turn out to be good at it. More importantly, if this is something that she wants to do, she'll have fun learning and feel a sense of accomplishment when she masters it. Plus, if they dont do flips and whatnot, I dont think you have to worry too much about her athletic abilities. Any kind of school invovlement is good. Don't worry too much and let her go for it :)

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Let her try... ya never know.
And it will be filled with lots of teachable moments.

My daughter, is a real girly girl. Loves girly things & doing girly things. One day she tells us she wants to take martial arts. Hmmmm I thought. Can she hack it? Well we found a great karate school. The teachers don't baby the kids, but they are good. My daughter LOVES it... and is really doing well. Its like a total surprise... because I would not think she liked it or would do well at it.
So... maybe your daughter will blossom in other ways... or she just wants to do it for her own confirmation of who she is. That is what my daughter likes about it... it fulfills her in ways that are more profound, than the usual kiddie reasons. She explained that to me once. I understand now.

All the best,
Susan

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This is tough. I am certainly no expert on this subject, but I remember I sort of had the same thoughts at that age. I was nerdy but thought it was "cool" to be a cheerleader and I signed up for it, we didn't have to try out at that age. I hated it. I did it one season and then I was done. I think you need to let her do it if she wants to, even if she gets hurt. I don't think she needs to have any particular "cheerleading" skills at this point, they will probably teach them those things. Middle school and junior high are the ages in which we try and find ourselves and fit in and you never know, she may love it! And...she may not, but that's okay too. It may help her find something she does love.

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Who cares? Let her try it!

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Let her do it. She may just surprise you and everyone else. So what if she is trying to fit in. We all do things to fit in.

Good Luck to her.

I agree, let her give it a shot. Even though it hurts us to see our children disappointed or have hurt feelings, they need to learnt o deal with these situations. Sheltering them form things like that doesn't do them any good.

Junior high cheerleading is not like high school cheerleading, and it sounds like her squad is non competitive, so they may let everyone who tries out join, it all just depends on how many cheerleaders they need and who tries out. Usually try outs are just in front of the coaches and maybe those trying out, not the whole student body. Since she has dance experience she may just make it.

In my highschool there were girls on the cheerleading squad that I was puzzled at how they made it (non coordinated, not really the cheerleading type) but we were a non competitive school so hey whatever works! It's the competitive squads that are really picky, and the girls have to be able to do gymnastics and other tricks.

I definitely agree to encourage her to try new things and if it doesn't work just be there to support her.

always encourage your kids and what they want to do. espically when it is a positive thing. let her try out. if she makes it celebrate. if she dosent then still go out for icecream and encourage her to try out again next year. and to practice with some of the girls threw the year at home. if its unrealistic for her she will figure that out. it was such a dissapointment when my parents would discourage something before letting me try for myself.

I don't know about your schools but at my kids schools the cheerleaders try out for teachers. It is not done in front of the whole school like when I went to school. If it is done in front of some faculty members let her try. If it is done in front of the other kids then maybe step in and and stop her from getting emotionally hurt by the ordeal. Maybe the other girls can work with her a little bit and she will be fine. I know at my sons school there are some girls that are cheerleaders that you would think how are they out there. Some of them could do jumps some could not. I think the standards have really changed. I know these girls that I am referring to would have never made it back in my time. You never know this might be her calling. She just needs a little help getting started.

Some cities offer cheer leading classes during the summer. Get her in if possible. Let her see how it is. If she still wants to try out let her. She may make it. If not she will have had fun going to the classes and will have tried, you never know til you try something right !

Hurray that your daughter will not fit into the "mold" that people might be putting her in. Be very excited that she wants to try something new. Don't ask her questions that come across as shock but let her know how proud you are of her.

Also, you will not always be able to protect your daughter from physical and emotional pain. The sooner she experiences these things, the sooner you can help her deal with them.

Remember: "Prepare your child for the path, not the path for your child." Don't try to remove all the rocks and sticks that are on the path or she will never learn how to get around them. If she falls on the path, she needs to learn that she will be fine if she gets up and continues on.

let her! my daughter did it and loved it! since your daughter seems to be uncoordinated you need to explain to her that it IS tough and mean. your daughter is most likely just trying to make a name for herself and cheerleading is just one of her aids. my advice is to let her do it then have volleyball or something else in line just in case.

Let her give it a shot. By all means, prepare her for the possibility of not making the squad. However don't make her live the rest of her life wondering, "what if?" I have absolutely NO cheer experience and I was somehow railroaded into being the cheer squad sponsor when I first started teaching. It was at the junior high level as well. Honestly, at that level it is not as competitive as what you see in the movies and on T.V. The squad's job is to raise school spirit and team morale, not to flip around and "bring it on."
Your daughter's talent in the arts is a great strength when it comes to making spirit posters, game banners pep rally decorations and maybe even choreography ideas. (You don't have to be a good dancer to know what will look appealing to the audience.) Her academic talent would be a great benefit as well due to the fact that each cheerleader must maintain a certain GPA. Can you imagine how much she could offer the others on her squad in a study group?
I don't know what she looks like, but it sounds to me like your daughter is a potential triple threat: smart, not afraid of hard work and a confident, open mind that makes her beautiful. Congratulations, it sounds like she's already a winner! Be there for her, support her either way and if it doesn't work out, don't let her be sour grapes. She will learn something from it and that's what is important. I say tell her to GO FOR IT!!! A big smile and confidence goes a long way! ; ) (Might I add, check out the movie Little Miss Sunshine and you'll see what I mean.)

Let her try! What can it hurt! I tried out for cheerleading in Junior High, didn't make it. I was not coordinated enough instead I played basketball. But I had to figure out my strengths on my own. Sure it hurt but I was better for it in the end and even though I didn't make it I have fond memories of the experience, though it hurt at the time. If I hadn't of tried I would never have known and might still regret not having tried! She is twelve and is starting to figure out who she is and I think you would do her a big disservice by not at least supporting her willingness to try!

Let her try out. Keeping her from something she wants to try is not very motivating IMO. I was kept from EVERYthing I wanted to try. I asked to try cheer, dance, drill team/pep steppers, girl scounts, gymnastics, softball, basketball, ice skating, even baton twirling & was always told a firm "NO!" I'd ask 'why' & was never given an answer, it was always "b/c you just don't need to" or it was "b/c I said so". Even if I ended up not being 'very good at it' I at least wanted the opportunity to find that out for myself. My advice is, let her try out. She may surprise you or, like you say, if she turns out to not make the team, at least she got to try. I think you'd be inhibiting her future motivation by denying her at least a tryout. A suggestion would be try to find other girls that are trying out also & see if they'd practice w/your daughter together. She could learn a lot from either watching videos on youtube & practicing what she sees on there or practicing w/others. Good luck!

I say let her go for it! My daughter is a competitive cheerleader right now and loves it. You never REALLY know what your daughter is capable of unless she tries. Let her realize on her own if she isn't coordinated. I was uncoordinated as a kid and tried out for the varsity cheerleading squad and made it! I was good at jumps--I didn't realize it--and bad at tumbling. It all evened out and I made the team. I had to "try out" and I'm sure she does, too. If she doesn't make it I wouldn't think it would ruin her self image....it's a great experience even if she is let down. You could also take her to a cheerleading gym and ask them to help give her hints to be successful at tryouts. Again, let her TRY! You may be pleasantly surprised at your "nerdy" daughter.

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