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Grip shift gear on kids bike difficult to turn
A few things which I have found when having a shifter which is hard to shift.

1) Grip or twist shifters are generally harder to shift then thumb or trigger shifters.

2) Test if the problem is with the cables. Loosen the bolt which holds the cable at the derailleur. Now try shifting. If still hard, then replace the cables and cable housing (or clean the cables and housing and find the restriction and repair).

3) Test if it is the shifter. If, during step 2, it is hard to shift, pull the cable part way through the housing near the shifter (allowing some cable slack near the shifter). Now try shifting. If difficult, then it is the shifter. Try soaking in solvent or replace it.

4) Test if it is the derailleur. With the cable released from the derailleur, try moving the derailleur by hand. If it moves ok, then it is not the derailleur. If it is stiff, then lubricate until free or replace.

5) I had purchased a Burly recumbent and the front shifter kept breaking. Took a new shifter to my LBS and asked them to replace and check everything...still was very difficult to shift and broke a third shifter. Took it to another bike shop...they could not resolve. Thought about it for a couple of months and then it struck me....moved the cable to the other side of the retaining bold on the derailleur and it worked like a charm. Problem was that the angle of the cable on the derailleur action was wrong. However, if it shifted ok originally and then became hard to shift, then steps 2-4 should resolve the issue.
Have you inspected any damage to the derailleur?

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