So, what's a parent to do -- make a child complete an activity even if he hates it? "Maybe," say a whopping 51% of parents interviewed:
Jackie Woods in Fort Wayne, IN: I think once a child begins an activity, especially if it's the first time, he needs to follow through to the end. Sometimes he thinks he's not going to like it, but, after a few times, everything works out. My youngest son wanted to play baseball but didn't want to continue after the first two games. I got involved as an officer and saw how good it was for the children to learn various skills and lessons in discipline by completing the task at hand. I decided to run the concession stand to be closer to the situation and be more supportive. This showed my son I was interested in him and the program as a whole.
Marci Fitts in Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.: The rule in our house is that if one of our children expresses an interest in an activity and we sign them up and pay the fee, the child has to serve out the commitment. If after that time the child no longer wants to continue, this is fine with us.
Kate Thompson in Yorktown, VA: While I want my children to learn to follow through on projects, I also don't want them to waste time doing things that turn out not to interest them. Use trial periods. For instance, on music lessons, have a trial period of four to six months. A team sport needs to be tried for at least one season. Of course, if an activity is dangerous to a child, take him out.
Tracy Hill in Superior, WI: I have five children, and all but the baby play sports. My oldest son played hockey, football, soccer, basketball, karate, and wrestling. During one basketball game, he announced he wasn't good at basketball, didn't understand it, and it wasn't fun. The key word in activities is fun. I told him he needed to finish the season but didn't have to sign up again. While organized basketball is out, he is the starting quarterback for his school team, wrestles, and is an assistant coach for the younger teams. We must teach our children continuity, credibility, accountability, and grace.
Kim J. in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: Before a child joins a sport or activity, the parents should talk about the hard work involved, as well as the "fun." If the child still decides to sign up, she should be encouraged to stick with it. This will teach the child perseverance and to choose activities wisely.
If the child doesn't become sick, hurt or isn't in any immediate danger, finishing the activity is a solid lesson for success in life. I also strongly agree with explaining before making a commitment the time and physical endurance required. Even if we tell a child about the hours and hours of practice, it may not sink in. Letting him do it a week or so before the activity may help. Don't forget to acknowledge a bully. Either one -- or a group is still cause for concern. Coaches need to learn to stop shrugging this off as normal activity between teammates. It can cause emotional devastation to any child thus creating a "label" which may lead to personal self-fulfillment: loser, stupid, slow, retard, etc. All words hurt. Talk with the coach and go with your gut feelings.
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