If you’re struggling to find the right kind of activities for your kids, you’re not alone. Most parents find this to be difficult when kids either want to quit one activity or just don’t seem to be good at it. Is it too much to ask of them? How much do they really want to be involved? Should you make them finish out the season if they want to quit?
It’s a fact— kids need to be involved in fun activities to learn valuable life lessons such as teamwork, dedication, and practice. Often, kids make friends and develop better social skills if they’re also involved in programs outside of school.
In a recent survey, the U.S. Census Bureau showed that children involved in one or more extracurricular activities like lessons, sports, or clubs tended to have higher levels of school engagement than ones who were not involved in any other activities. These extracurricular activities not only teach children new skills, but they also provide an outlet for energy and usually allow for adequate exercise.
Don’t be too extreme
We’ve all experienced those parents who are trying to live out their own dreams through their children—it’s not an easy thing to watch.
The kids get burnt out on trying to be the best in a specific field of interest that they may not have even chosen. When kids want to quit, parents won’t let them. Soon, the child begins to hate the activity, which can cause her to feel insufficient and lead to emotional damage in the long run. It’s important to ask yourself as a parent whether your child is involved in a specific sport or activity because you want them to be or because they opt to be part of it.
Then there’s the opposite: the parent doesn’t want to push anything on the child, so nothing ever happens. Kids don’t always have the realization that they may love a new sport, so when parents don’t introduce these ideas or encourage them to be active outside of school, kids never get to enjoy this vital experience.
How do parents address these issues and find a good activity that their child will enjoy?
Ways to gently encourage
Give your child options for what he or she wants to be involved in without pushing them too hard. Present an array of interests, clubs, and sports to your child and ask what they’d like to be part of. Most clubs will allow children to attend a meeting to see if they’re interested. Or you can take your child to watch a specific sports' team or game to gauge his or her interest.
The point is to get your child involved, but not to choose for them. If you’re not familiar with the activity your child wants to do, it may mean you have to look up videos, talk to a coach or instructor, or check out a podcast learn more about it. Whether it’s archery, dance lessons, or board games, don’t be afraid to dip your toe into something that’s new to you. Your child will appreciate the freedom to explore new opportunities and express themselves in creative ways.
What if my child wants to quit?
Every parent must make a unique decision when it comes to quitting.
Make your decision based on your child’s personality, history, and stamina. If your child can’t keep up and clearly isn’t having fun, maybe quitting is okay. But if your child just doesn’t have the teamwork mindset, maybe keeping them involved will help with social development.
One middle-ground option is to have the kids finish out the season or group of lessons and then decide if they want to keep going or find something new.
Don’t limit the options
Children can choose from a huge array of activities. You don’t want to trap your child into choosing one of the most common activities if there’s no interest.
Keep in mind that personality will play into the kinds of things your child likes to do. If your child is more creatively minded, maybe a painting class or music lessons are good options. For more physically active children, exploring an outdoor activity can be fun—basketball, soccer, football, golf, archery, scouts, hiking, and more.
The options - and the fun - are endless!