Katrina Brown Hunt
Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, PhD
Think you're the only kid who hates PE class? You're not. Everybody has something they think they're not good at. Maybe you think you can't run fast or can't get a ball through the hoop. Some kids worry about dropping a ball during a game and making everybody else mad, or getting laughed at -- or both.
Here are some things you can do to make PE class better -- or at least seem shorter.
"You look at the kids with skills, and you may think they're lucky," says phys ed teacher George Graham. "But they're not -- they've just done it more." So if your class is playing softball, ask a friend or family member to help you practice swinging a bat after school. Keep in mind, too, that kids may think you're lucky in other ways -- like how quickly you "get" math or how well you write.
Find out what's going on in your next PE class, and see how you can get ready. If it's basketball, shoot some hoops on the playground before you have to do it in class so you'll feel more confident. You can also ask your PE teacher to give you a break if you struggle with a specific skill, like climbing a rope or doing pull-ups. Just tell her that you're worried about your classmates teasing you when you already know you have problems with that skill. Your teachers may help you find a creative solution.
A lot of top athletes don't think about competing with other athletes. They compete against themselves and are always looking to beat their "personal best." Maybe you won't run the fastest mile, but you can ran farther or faster than you did last time. "Think to yourself, 'Am I being the best I can be?'" says Jenna Johnson, an exercise physiologist at Sanford Health in North Dakota. When you set a new personal best, that's always something to be proud of.
A few minutes before PE class starts, do this several times: Breathe in deeply to fill your lungs, and then slowly let the air out. Next, picture in your mind a person or place that makes you feel good. When you feel relaxed, you'll probably do better in phys ed.
Everybody makes mistakes -- even the kids in your class who seem to hit home runs every time. When you don't get the ball into the hoop, it's OK to laugh a little ("Wow, that was an airball!") and brush it off. If you don't make a big deal out of it, other kids probably won't make a big deal of it either. If you look like you are having fun, that's what the other kids will notice too -- not if you are perfect every time.
Having a friend who feels the same way you do can make PE class more fun. Just don't spend the whole class talking about how much you hate PE. That will only bring you down. Instead, cheer on your buddy and he'll do the same for you.
People love compliments. If you wish you could throw a football the way one of the other kids does, tell him that you think he does it really well. Then ask, "Could you show me how?" You'll get some skills, and probably make a new friend -- which makes phys ed that much better, too.
Pick something you like about your PE class. Do you like being outside, the teacher, or a chance to hang out with a friend? Then focus on that. It's better than thinking about the other things you don't like.
IMAGE PROVIDED BY:Patrick Giardino / IconicaREFERENCES:Jenna Johnson, exercise physiologist, Sanford Health, Fargo, N.D.George Graham, PhD, physical education consultant; founder and CEO, PECentral.org.Charlotte Reznick, child educational psychologist; associate clinical professor of psychology, University of California at Los Angeles; author, The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success.Ronda Rose-Kayser, certified family life educator, Sanford Mutch Women’s Center for Health Enrichment, Sioux Falls, S.D.
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