Finding something that my daughter wanted to stick with seemed like it was going to be impossible. At 3 she started dance, which included ballet and tap (or what would be ballet and tap if the students knew how to do either at age 3.) This lasted for one year. After the recital at the end of the year, dance sort of disappeared from her list of priorities.
We tried soccer at age 4. She seemed to like soccer. She also seemed to spend some portions of the game picking flowers or doing somersaults while the rest of the team was playing soccer. She played for 1.5 seasons, (fall, spring, and fall the next year) before we finally just acknowledged that soccer was not for her.
She started performing in plays, mostly because I was the director. I will say that she thoroughly enjoys doing plays, especially musicals. However, she also thinks she should/could be the star of most of these productions. At age 5 she auditioned for the role of Greta in the high school’s production of “The Sound of Music” and she didn’t get cast. She could not understand how, when she worked really hard, memorized lines, learned a song, and then did it all “flawlessly”, she could have not been cast. It was a bit of a blow to her tiny ego. And while she hasn’t given up on her love for plays, we have put them on hold as extracurriculars.
By the time she was 7 she had done a season of track and field and a year of gymnastics too. Neither of these really stuck and she was ambivalent about continuing them, so we didn’t.
Then we found taekwondo. Her best friend in second grade was very heavily involved in taekwondo and she is what got us through the door. Over two years have past and Gianna is completely dedicated to this sport/art. As her mom, I couldn’t help but wonder, What is it about this sport?
There are numerous articles about why martial arts is beneficial to children, especially children with ADHD. Discipline, respect, focus, and dedication are merely a few of the things that martial arts teaches. (Click the following links to two of the most popular ADHD online resources and their take on the benefits of martial arts such as taekwondo, karate, jujitsu, judo, etc. for children with ADHD: Attitude Magazine Understood.org)
However, none of this truly explained why she stuck with taekwondo longer than any of the other activities she tried. When I asked Gianna what she likes about taekwondo she simply said:
“Daddy has ADHD too and he grew up doing martial arts. I like that I am like him. I love taekwondo because I can wiggle and jiggle my arms and legs whenever I want. I can concentrate more at taekwondo than at school because at school you have to sit straight in a chair most of the day but at taekwondo you can stand and move at all times.“
This is her honest, yet formal, response. It’s the response she gave me when she knew I was documenting her answer. If I really think about the things she has said over the past two years, I would say that she loves it because she can be in charge of her own successes and failures. The ownership of these things is extremely satisfying for her. The model is simple:
Work hard = Win
Winning doesn’t always mean getting first place in an event. It can mean belting up, improving from the last time she tried something, making a new friend, learning a new move, or obviously it can mean earning that District Championship Title she won in 2017. To win is subjective and you have to figure out what winning looks like to you. But, to me, when she still smiles at me from behind her helmet after 2.5 years, that is the greatest victory.