Tips for Children Who Hate Gym Class

Close up of two girls with basketball

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There's a lot for children to worry about when they're getting ready to begin middle school, and gym class is usually at the top of the list. Gym or physical education (P.E.) class can be very different in middle school than it is in elementary school, and because tweens are so self-conscious, gym class is often the most feared part of the day for middle schoolers.

If your child is dreading gym, there's plenty you can do to help. The tips below will help you know what to talk about with your preteen, and prepare him for all the challenges that gym class might bring.

Don't Be Embarrassed

Middle schoolers worry a lot about embarrassing themselves, and there's no easier class to do that than in gym class. That's one main reason why so many middle schoolers hate gym. Be sure your child knows that most of the kids in class are worried about being embarrassed, too, and that their attitude can determine whether they have a good day in gym or a bad day.

Encourage your child to face gym class with a positive attitude, and a good sense of humor if things don't go well.

Everybody Has to Wear the Gym Uniform

There are certain universal rules about middle school and one of them is that there are no attractive gym uniforms. Period. But at least your child won't be the only one wearing the dreaded gym outfit. Reinforce that all the students are in it together, and that, at least, they don't have to wear the gym uniform all day. Also, be sure your child brings his uniform home when it needs to be cleaned. You might even consider purchasing two gym uniforms so that your tween always has one ready to go.

Be Sure to Practice Hygiene

Middle schoolers are in the midst of puberty, and that means hygiene is ever important. Some schools may require students to shower after gym class, and that can be embarrassing to a tween. The good news is most of the students are also worried and self-conscious about showering or changing in the locker room, so nobody is really focusing any extra attention on your tween. A short chat on the subject may calm his fears. In addition, make sure your child has everything he'll need in his locker, such as deodorant, soap, and possibly a towel.

Practice Using a Locker Combination Lock

Your child may store all of her gym belongings in a gym locker. Help her get used to using a combination lock by providing one at home so she can practice. Once she has it down, she'll be a little more confident in the locker room.

Don't Worry If You're Not the Best

Middle schoolers can be competitive, and athletes, in particular, will want to show off in front of the class. That can make the rest of the class worry about how they're performing in front of their peers. Remind your child that there will be students in gym class that are very athletic and that even if he's not, he can learn a lot and should always do his best.

Prepare For Bullies

Unfortunately, bullies tend to show up in just about every middle school gym class. You can prepare your child by helping her know some stock tactics on how to deal with a bully, or when to know if it's time to get an adult involved.

1 Source
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  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. How to Prevent Bullying.

By Jennifer O'Donnell
Jennifer O'Donnell holds a BA in English and has training in specific areas regarding tweens, covering parenting for over 8 years.