I know what you are thinking reading that title- Cheerleading IS life- right? Ok ok, I get it. Believe me, I’m quite cheer obsessed myself. Over the years though, I have learned that cheerleading can be a very important and very special part of your child’s life, but it shouldn’t be their whole life.

For starters, typically cheerleading is a sport that we do as a child, and then a percentage may move on to become collegiate athletes, and some may even move on to coach or own a gym someday, but for most- it is a sport that we do for very short time frame of what is hopefully a very long life. Many cheerleaders may never turn another back handspring or take a step on a bouncy blue mat once they graduate high school. They move on with their lives and into adulthood. Then there is also the possibility of a debilitating injury that could occur out of nowhere, and thus end the cheer journey early at any point, or a child may simply burn out or grow bored with the sport and decide to pursue other interests.

As a gym owner, a coach, and now a cheer parent, I have witnessed many different scenarios where there was no balance and the results were heartbreaking. A couple years ago, a 1st grader joined a youth squad with no cheer experience. Her parents hovered from the bleachers watching every practice and saw the majority of the squad had their back handsprings. The parents became desperate for their child to get her back handspring, and so they put her in every tumbling class offered at the gym plus privates. She was in the gym 6 days a week and with her father criticizing every last mistake when she dared grace the drinking fountain for a quick sip of water, she got her back handspring. It wasn’t enough though. Her parents kept her in all the classes and pushed and pushed her until she was ahead of the rest of the squad. The poor child who once bounced in the door with eager eyes hungry to learn and a big smile on her face quickly diminished to a sullen look of burn out. My heart broke for her. She once had pure joy for the sport and it was gone. I have witnessed older cheerleaders in the gym pushing themselves to their limits giving up all their social activities to spend every last waking minute in the gym, only to push too hard when their bodies gave out from exhaustion and suffer a major injury. When they receive the news that they can’t go back to cheerleading, they sunk into a deep depression. Cheerleading was all they had and they seemed lost in the world. So many examples I could give, but the point remains the same- children need balance and they need other consistent aspects in their lives outside of the gym.

Parents- Here are some tips to help instill some balance in your children’s lives outside of cheerleading, and some things that shouldn’t be regularly sacrificed.

Family Time– Try to commit to one day a week, or bi-weekly of dedicated family time. It could be something simple as dinner or going out to the movies or another fun activity. Also, try to monitor how many major events your cheerleader is missing and weigh out the possibilities of attending some of the events, or part of them (Weddings, Anniversary parties, funerals, birthday parties, etc). Grandma and Grandpa’s 50th Anniversary party is on the same day as practice? See if it is possible to attend the first half of the party and maybe be a little late to practice or some other suitable arrangement if allowed.

cheerlife3smallSocial Engagement and Friendships– It is important that your cheerleader has normal social experiences outside the gym, and yes even with peers who don’t know what a back handspring is. Trips to the mall, sleepovers, and the like- it’s all part of growing up and the childhood experience. They should be able to attend the ‘typical events’ kids look forward to, such as Prom, Homecoming, Quinceanera, etc. If you want to stand out at a quinceanera, check out Peaches Boutique designer quinceanera gowns collection. If there is a competition on the same weekend, scout around and find one on a different weekend at a friend’s school and see if they can attend that one instead.

Academics– Education always comes first. Functions that are for a grade should never be missed. Homework should be done on a set schedule to where it does not interfere with practice, but so that it does get done and done with solid effort. If your child attends public school, don’t pull them out and home school for cheerleading. Home school because it is best for their education, but not for cheerleading.

Other Children– If you have other children, make sure that their sports and activities do not take a back seat to cheerleading. Their sports and activities should be equally important. If it is more than you can juggle with conflicting schedules, then arrange a carpool or enlist a family member to help. Putting one child’s sport over another sends the wrong message. Make competitions and games a family occasion whenever possible, and support each other.

cheerlife2smallHealth and Well-Being– Your child’s health and well-being should always be of top priority. If your child gets injured, then you obey the physician’s orders. Do not go against the medical advice for the sake of throwing a tumbling pass at a competition or getting Suzy’s stunt up with the rest. This could lead to an even bigger injury and/or long term damage. Teach your child to take care of their body. They will need it for many many years long after cheerleading is over.

Hobbies, Interests, Sports– Your child should have other interests outside of cheerleading. It doesn’t have to be another ‘full time’ sport. It can be something fun and engaging such as a photography class, jewelry making, scrapbooking, or playing an instrument. They should be well-rounded and take the time to enjoy other interests and hobbies.

Cheerleading can be an integral part of a child’s life. Just be sure to make room for all the other important aspects of life, and make them a priority as well, and you will be well on your way to raising a happy healthy cheerleader.

Co-founder Heart of Cheer

Co-founder Heart of Cheer star cheerleading,cheer parents,cheerleaders,cheerleading,life balance
I know what you are thinking reading that title- Cheerleading IS life- right? Ok ok, I get it. Believe me, I’m quite cheer obsessed myself. Over the years though, I have learned that cheerleading can be a very important and very special part of your child’s life, but it...