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Beth Risdon, author of the irreverent and humorous running blog, Shut Up + Run, is a certified running coach (RRCA). Beth's passion is writing about her triathlon and marathon training, and inspiring others to participate in their first endurance event. Beth lives and trains near Boulder, Colorado. You can follow her adventures at www.shutupandrun.net.

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Shut Up and Run!
by Beth Risdon, Running Coach, Health and Fitness Blogger

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Recently, I received a thought-provoking question from a reader of my blog. It hit home because it combines two things I am extremely passionate about – running and kids.

kids run

The question speaks to the bigger issue of how much we should push our kids to do things, and how much we should let them evolve naturally into their own little people. Before I get too much into that, here’s the story:

Stacy* has a daughter, Mia. Mia HATES to RUN. Mia is in 6th grade and doing cross country and track. She will whine and make excuses not to run. She has major anxiety before meets. She is worried she will let everyone down. She will complain for hours before bed about how her parents are the worst parents for making her run.

The parents respond, “Everyone is given a gift from God to be good at something... you many not be the best at math or reading but you were given legs to run.” The parents say, “We can’t pick what we are given, we just need to make the most of it.”

Stacy’s ultimate question was – “Should I take her to get some anxiety happy pills? Know of anyone like this? We don’t want her to quit.”

In my opinion, this wasn’t the right question to ask. The “right” questions to ask would be:

* Why do we care so much if she runs or not? Is this more about us?
* At what point is okay to let your child quit something they have committed to if they really hate it?
* On that note - when is it “right” to insist a child do something? When is it “right” to let it go and to allow them the choice?

Parenting is a touchy thing because everyone has an opinion. Parents are protective of their kids. Parents want the best for the kids. The tough thing is – parenting is very subjective. What works for one kid or family might not work for another. There is no handbook, no perfect way of parenting. There is trial and error, finding what works for each individual.

That said, there are times to push and insist a child do something, and there are times when we don’t have to pick that battle. I learned this lesson very early on with my kids.

There are some issues that, as a parent, you must put your foot down about because you ARE the parent and you DO know better (school, being honest, being safe, etc.). Yet, there are some times when we need to give our child the autonomy to know what is best for themselves. Even at an early age we can do this by giving them choices that make sense (do you want oatmeal or Cheerios?). This is how we teach them that we trust them and ...    Continue

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