Soccer, swimming, karate, violin lessons – no matter the activity, you are not alone if you find yourself trapped in a battle about going to the activity, which, one month ago, they begged you to do. I’ve been coaching families for 20 years, and this has always been a challenge. Now, after COVID, it feels even bigger. The kids aren’t alone! I know so many adults that are just not that interested in heading out to an activity anymore.
Yet, there are amazing programs being run for kids everywhere! Sometimes they’re optional. Sometimes, we need our kids to attend for childcare purposes or because we feel it’s important that they are learning a specific skill or to be part of a team.
Once you are clear about what activities fit your family, it’s time to figure out your family’s rules about attending activities.
My child chose the activity
Sometimes your child may come running into the house, saying “can I play soccer? My friend is playing on Tuesdays and I want to play too, I love soccer!”
In these scenarios, it can feel doubly maddening when, after they begged you to start, you find yourself on the end of complaints and pleading. “Please don’t make me go to soccer!”
You chose the activity
Many of my clients sign their kids up for swimming lessons every year for safety reasons. The children might not love getting their ears wet, but it’s important for them to learn how to survive in and around the water.
Packing their own bag
Young kids love to be helpful, and children of all ages can learn to be responsible for their own things. Make a list, with your child, of the things they’ll need for the activity: indoor shoes, uniform, etc.
If your child cannot yet read, ask them to draw pictures of the items, and you put the word beside the picture. Then, schedule a time the night before the event to have them use the list to help you pack the bag.
You may have to do it with them at first (or always, if your child is very young), but let them help you at the beginning, and then show you their packed bag as they gain confidence. Depending on their age, help them get the bag to the car or have them do that on their own. Older children will quickly learn that if they forget something, they will not be able to participate fully.
Don’t rescue them by bringing it to them! They can survive a day of learning.
Getting your child to practice
Arguing over practice (piano, learning a script, dribbling skills) can become a habit, and all habits can be changed. They won’t be changed in the heat of the moment, though! It will require some planning by parents and some work as a family.
Fighting about activities isn’t worth it. When misbehaviors happen, it is kids showing us that they need to learn a new way to do things. Arguments about activities are an indicator that we need to come together as a family and figure out a way to teach a new way of being for all members of the family. Need help? Give me a call!
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