19 answers

My 7 Year Old Daughter Isn't Interested in Anything!

I have a problem that may not be a problem at all. I can’t get my 7, soon to be 8, year old daughter interested in anything. When she was much younger I signed her up for ballet and dance and she was miserable so we stopped. She was very shy and had trouble in groups. She still is shy but does much better and does make friends. She has an older brother who plays soccer and baseball and will try new things. We encourage our children to do just that - try new things with no expectation that they will be star athletes or star dancers, etc. Both kids take piano and really neither one of them loves it but they both do well. She used to like art (and I think it provides a good outlet for her) so I signed her up for fun art classes and she did quite well but now won’t do those. I know we all have times in our lives when we like something and then move on so I have tried hard to not push her. She wanted to try tennis last summer so I signed her up for lessons and she did quite well. This year she refuses to go to lessons and I tried making her which was a failure - she was miserable and pretty much refused to participate. She did like a gymnastics class after school that has ended - it was very low key and she knew some of the girls in the class and did well (meaning she participated and seemed to have fun). Now she has nothing after school. I don’t want her to become too sedentary but also don’t want to push - if she had it her way she would come home and watch TV. I have offered horse back riding lessons (no) and we recently joined a new pool - she is an awesome swimmer but is refusing to join the swim team even though she knows some of the kids on the team. We did move to a new neighborhood in the last year but she has transitioned amazingly well and has made new friends and had done well in school. I know it isn’t fair to compare siblings but her older brother will pretty much try anything even if he isn’t good at it. I just don’t want her to miss out on discovering that she might actually enjoy something that she didn’t expect to. Any advice?

Thanks!

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It sounds like normal kid "attitude." I think as long as you limit her TV time and computer time, she will find things that interest her. Even if she just likes to read and play for 6 months solid, let her. She will develop interests on her own.

But if she seems to socially withdraw -no friends - or just sleep, then I would get worried she is having some sort of problem or is depressed.

You say she does well, but she's shy. Maybe she doesn't want to go back because the social interactions are hard for her with people she doesn't know, or may know, but not well. Have you tried teaming her up in an activity with a friend? Sometimes I coordinate with the mom of one of my daughter's friends when I'm trying to get her to try something new so she has some sort of comfort level. We sign them up for the activity together. While the activity may be new, they have familiarity with each other to ease their anxieties or shyness.

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First of all, I would suggest don't push. The more you push, the more your daughter will pull away. And turn off the tv after school. Set a time limit, and once her tv time is up, the tv goes off.

You've said that she isn't too fond of large groups. Is it the noise? Maybe too loud? If the situation is loud and boisterous, she might feel very uncomfortable.

This is going to sound a little crazy, but what about golf lessons? My son started at age 7 and loved them! You're outside, it reasonably quiet, & the groups are relatively small. Plus golf is a social game that she would be able to play her entire life. I'm not sure where you're located, but the First Tee program through the Hampton Roads YMCA has a junior golf program. It's not very expensive for lessons, and for clubs, watch the paper for a used junior set.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, S.. I have a seven-year-old daughter too. She, perhaps like your daughter, does not like to be overscheduled (though she does love her ballet class). Your daughter may just be a kid who needs a lot of what my daughter calls "chill-out time" whereas you're focused on classes and organized activities, which she may love in a few years but not now. You say she's a good student and makes friends, so don't stress over the lack of organized, formal activities. Over the summer, play with her yourself and arrange plenty of play dates -- unstructured, let her and her friends hang out (with toys and games or outside, not in front of the TV!) and you quietly keep an eye from a distance to see how she interacts, what interests her (does she pretend a lot? Does she prefer analytical games? Does she just want to groove to music in her room? etc.) That way you get to know her personality better but without pushing her towards organized classes all the time. Most of all I'd say avoid TV as much as possible and spend lots of time at the library and/or bookstore hanging out, at the playground being active, etc. And when school starts again, listen carefully to what she says about what she likes at school--she might not like piano lessons now but might want to join the school band later, etc. Most of all have fun with her! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

hi S. H,
I can relate to your dilemma. I have a 10 year old son, who has been like that most of his childhood. He was never interested in organized sports, he's never done soccer or baseball or swimming. He participated briefly in indiv. sports like gymnastics and martial arts, but his committment wavered.

He is also very shy and can be very stubborn in trying new things. He has mild sensory issues which also means transitioning to new experiences can be hard for him and sometimes he will not try something that he might really like!

We have pretty much let him be himself. He is very into computers and reading. He is going to a computer camp for a week this summer and he is reading programming for dummies books. He recently wanted to sing with the school chorus and expressed interest in doing musicals, so now we are doing OKlahoma this summer. He's not that good, but hey, I was thrilled he was interested. This is all new, and at 8 he was not interested in anything extra-curricular. The lack of activity does concern me but we stay active as a family, hiking, biking, taking walks. He knows his dad and I work out so that is a role model.

I know it is hard to see that everyone else has their kids in all kinds of sports, but if you let her be who she is, she might surprise you with an interest soon. Don't be concerned if it's not a sport type interest. I'm convinced my son is going to be a computer geek, but that's just the way it is.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I had the same issue with my son at that age. He is 11 now. He tried several sports but just didn't like any of them. After taking a year or so off from "trying" he discovered on his own that he loves to sing! He is now a meember of our church choir and local college children's choir. We got him his own karaoke machine, microphone, mic stand, etc. and he's as happy as can be. Hang in there, she'll find her niche...just let her do it in her own time. :)

1 mom found this helpful

She does seem to have tried quite a lot of things, and they don't appeal to her. Don't worry about it. I remember being seven, even though it was 55 years ago. My parents took me to Brownies and being very shy I was petrified of having to take the oath in front of others and feared I would not remember anything. It stopped me from continuing at least that was part of the reason, the other part was I couldn't abide being in a roomful of screaming little girls. Perhaps your daughter just doesn't want to be surrounded by other girls. It can be a nightmare for a shy child to be put in that situation.
I found an interest in Ballroom Dancing and that was the thing for me and as it is something you can pretty much pursue all your life I can still dance and get exercise.

I think mainly you should give the child a break, she has friends does well in school, she just doesn't want to be active. If she is over-weight you may have a problem but if not she may just prefer to be quiet. TV isn't a good idea but there are other things she can do on her own or with her friends. She doesn't need organising. Some children are quite happy doing their own thing and don't want to be involved. If she is happy enough let her be.

I wouldn't worry over much about it, but I understand what you're saying. It sounds like she particularly doesn't like sports or competitive type things. Have you considered girl scouts? I loved it, and am still friends with some of the girls for the last fifteen years or so.

You say she does well, but she's shy. Maybe she doesn't want to go back because the social interactions are hard for her with people she doesn't know, or may know, but not well. Have you tried teaming her up in an activity with a friend? Sometimes I coordinate with the mom of one of my daughter's friends when I'm trying to get her to try something new so she has some sort of comfort level. We sign them up for the activity together. While the activity may be new, they have familiarity with each other to ease their anxieties or shyness.

Hi S.,
I haven't read all of the responses.... we just stumbled upon Tae Kwon Do classes in Woodbridge. There is a website: woodbridgemartialarts.com

They let you try it out for like $20 bucks for two weeks, and you get a free uniform. The classes are on a 'show up' basis so its not always the same kids each class. My son really loves it and my 19m old girl gets into it too. It is a chunk of change if you decide to go past the trial, but they prorate the cost if you cancel the contract early.
They take their time with the kids. If one kid is having a problem with a move, they work with them. They praise them when they do well in school, or their home behavior chart and reward them with school points. They are in a class with other kids, but there isnt really pressure to 'be friends' or in a clic like what can happen in sports and dance.

The part I like about it is that its exercise - they start each class with jumping jacks, situps, and stretching, its indoors, and its year round.
M.

I know this might sound tough, but maybe you should stop offering her the world. Maybe if she is left to her own devices, and TV is not one of them, she will find something that she wants to do. Spending a summer with nothing to do, never killed anyone, but did make them want something better.

S., the thing that you should ask youself is...why is it so important for your child to be involved in some sort of organized activity. I remember being a child and just "playing" with my friends. Going outside, riding bikes, swinging on the swings. "Play" was fun then. It seems there is so much pressure to be "involved" in something these days that there is no time for a child to learn how to entertain themselves, or to just be a human being, not a human doing. If your daughter enjoys art, buy some art supplies, keep them on hand. If your daughter loves to swim, take her to the pool and let her splash around. I have three children. Only the oldest enjoyed organized activities, the other two love to ride their bikes with friends one day, go to the pool the next, take a walk to the park or read a good book. It's okay for your child to just enjoy life. I know you stated that there is no pressure to succeed at the activities, however there is pressure once the activity is paid for to start and finish at the same time everyday and to participate. Perhaps, your daughter would like to start playing when she wants to and stop when she is tired or would like to change to a different activity, we are all different and enjoy different things. Make activity available to your daughter at home, if you do not want her sedintary, don't allow it, but provide plenty of different activities at home and let her come to you about organized ones. Hope this information frees your thinking.

Hi S.,

Sounds like you are trying your best with your daughter and nothing is working.

Join a support group for SAHM moms. Take some parenting classes to learn what is going on with your daughter.

Maybe the child wants to do things with you, like playing catch, riding horseback, bowling, tennis.

Whatever the two of you and do together. After all, she is still a baby.

Hope this helps. Good luck. D.

You keep saying she does not try new things but you yourself listed a BUNCH of things she HAS tried! Maybe she is just not into the group activity things. She likes swimming so how about just some family trips to the pool, some random tennis games against mom, some how to draw (insert whatever) books. Just kinda follow HER interests and she will let you know if and when she wants to join something if anything at all. She does not have to be pushed into a group activity just so she will not sit around. There are lots of things she can do on her own or with other people that are not a team sport thing.

I think you shouldn't be so worried about her being in activities. Maybe if you let her bring it up instead of continuely asking her to join groups... she would ask to join something on her own.

In the meantime, make sure she gets exercise and plays with her friends. She's only 7 years old.

It sounds like normal kid "attitude." I think as long as you limit her TV time and computer time, she will find things that interest her. Even if she just likes to read and play for 6 months solid, let her. She will develop interests on her own.

But if she seems to socially withdraw -no friends - or just sleep, then I would get worried she is having some sort of problem or is depressed.

She just might be an introvert. It's good to introduce her to new activities; but, she just might not be the type of person who enjoys a lot of structured events right now. Maybe she'd like a friend to come over sometimes, but she might have more fun doing things at home like baking or making crafts, or more things with you, like gardening or helping. I'd restrict tv and computer time anyway, because she could get lost in the mindlessness. Does she enjoy reading? Nothing wrong with that as long as you're pointing her to the classics that are age-appropriate. I love that you introduce her to activities, but maybe she doesn't need them as often has her brother does. I'd probably still insist she tries something from time to time, but I wouldn't worry at this time. She's only 7. You don't want to burn her out, and then, at 13 or 14, when she really should be doing something, she rebels altogether. She might come out of her shell then and want to join a volleyball team or debate team. I believe teens 13 and up really need to stay busy consistently. Give her and yourself a little time to just enjoy life.

We have a son with the same issue, and I have wondered about getting him tested for depression.

Hi, S..

Is your daughter the youngest of the three? I also have a seven year old who has tried various activities with limited success. She is the baby of the family. Part of me is convinced that she has to "fight" for her place in the family. . . and has been dragged to various places to support her siblings for so long that being at home and having her own down time is special. She also seems to crave time alone with either my husband or myself.

She, too, loves to swim, but won't be convinced to consider the swim the team. She has tried baseball, soccer, gymnastics, etc.

We have found that she seems to enjoy activities that keep all of those involved on a similar level with little competition. Even with art, some students do better than others.

My daughter has thoroughly enjoyed getting involved with the Cloverbud 4H program in our community. They meet once each month and do activities ranging from games to field trip to cooking and crafts. It is more social than competitive, and she has a great time. We are also looking into Brownies--as the scouting program follows a similar path. Another option--depending on your family's beliefs-- would be church children's programs. My daughter has also enjoyed such programs as they seem to follow a similar format to the other activities in which she thrives.

I wouldn't push the other activities. Instead, cultivate her interests. Look for programs that make her comfortable. Do an activity together as a family in a low-key way--such as bowling or a nature hike or bicycling. If she enjoys them, it might lead to something she will want to do on her own. Eventually she will find the one that makes her happy. Also, if she has a special friend that is involved in certain activities, that might add to the enjoyment.

There has actually been a lot of research lately that encourages more "play" time for children--stressing that time spent in "organized" activities actually decreases the creative side of their personalities. . . and that too often, more time is spent driving than actually engaged in the activity. Including sports and active pursuits as part of your family life seems to not only improve everyone's health, but also leads to interests that your children can follow thorughout their lives. I think that if you stay active as a family and let your daughter's personality shine, she will lead all of you toward the things that make her happy.

Good luck.

You have received so much great advice. I just want to add that at 7, your daughter is still really young. Maybe you should just let her sit this summer out. She many get so bored that she begs you to sign her up for something or she discovers something she loves on her own. I don't know about anyone else but apart from being outside all day, my five sisters and I did not participate in any organized sports until around 5th grade. At that grade my school offered basketball. We all played it and loved it. We played by choice, however. My parents never asked us if we wanted to participate in anything. Of course, with 6 kids money was tight. But we managed and learned to enjoy the outdoors. We truly developed our imaginations in that way which is something lacking in many kids today.

I understand about wanting your child to be active. My 9 year old son needs physical activity because he gains weight easily. He isn't very good at any sports but he is willing to try things. We decided to start walking together, as a family. We are up to 2.5 miles and all of us have firmed up. We keep the youngest in a stroller, my 7 year old daughter practically runs the entire time (she had asthma so it is wonderful to see her running without any difficulty) and we tell stories. My husband and I talk about our day, too. It has been a great experience for us. Sometimes the kids ride their bikes instead of walking. They end up going way over the 2.5 miles because they keep circling back.

Anyway, I guess what I am saying is save your money!! You mentioned that you don't want her to miss out on something she might enjoy...maybe she can discover something new on her own while playing outside. Let her play outside, a little TV time here and there, maybe a sketch book with nice pencils or journal to use while sitting outside, maybe she would like some potting soil and seeds to watch something grow this summer. She can write about it or draw it as it happens. It doesn't always have to be about sports or lessons of some kind. Learning and exercise can come from just about anywhere.

What a lucky girl to have a mom who cares so much!! Good luck.

This makes me think back when I was her age... The very extent of my activities was swimming in the summer and soccer other times in the year. I think nowadays parents try to get their kids involved with TOO many things, whether it be all at once, or switching from one activity to the next. I think it is all overwhelming, and perhaps she's tried so much that she takes those opportunities for granted, and becomes very disinterested.

Summer is coming up. Hang out with her see what she seems to draw her attention to, go to the library and see what kinds of books interest her, ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, ask her what subjects at school she was most interested in. You may be able to link those findings to something that pleases you both. It is of course good to be active, but at that age you don't necessarily need to have her involved in something organized... For instance, you may find that she is interested in Science, so with that knowledge she can go on little mini hikes or go paddle boating- something active that will interest her.

Since she is shy, and it has actually become a obstacle in furthering herself or being the main reason that she isn't doing these group activities, you may want to speak to her doctor about that. Counseling may help with the shyness, and also could assist in helping her figure out something that she'd like to do.

I also did like the idea of simply taking her to the pool to swim by herself that the other mom came up with. Hey, you may never know but she may develop a close friendship with one of the other kids and want to be on the swim team "just like her friend" or something like that- just for example...

Rebecca

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