I remember my first child getting out in the world and spreading her wings, becoming involved with various activities, and also feeling very frustrated when she wouldn’t stick with them for very long. First it was gymnastics, then cheerleading, then band, then for a brief year, chorus……leaving me with the impression that she was quitting whenever things got particularly difficult. This was not a pattern I was crazy about.
Then things changed. I was doing some community theatre work at the time, and she and I ended up cast in a production of DR. DOLITTLE. She played a duck with about four lines of dialogue. She was also hooked, and we went on to be in another show together, OUR TOWN, before she struck out on her own. Before long she found she preferred working behind the stage as opposed to acting on it, and voila….she found her niche in the world of theatre.
I discovered with her that it was important to allow my kids to find something that they were passionate about, and when they do, to indulge them in that passion as much as possible. My second daughter’s search was less extensive, with her finding her place in the orchestra making music, and my son becoming active in Tae Kwan Do (he’s currently a blue belt).
No doubt you have similar experiences with your child. Like me, you may be wondering if they will ever find their passion. Well, don’t worry, they will, and if it takes some time, so what? They’re still kids, and they still have a lot of years left to enjoy whatever their passion becomes.
I developed a love for writing as a child. Looking back, the stories I wrote were long on imagination but short on talent. Fortunately, that passion stayed with me long enough to hone it and refine it, to the point where I now make a living doing it. Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.
If you want to get your kids involved, find out what interests them, and let them go for it. They will figure out pretty quick whether or not it is for them. If it isn’t, let them move on. How many people lost their love for music because their parents made them go to piano lessons? Don’t drive your kids away from something just because they don’t like it momentarily.
Now, that being said, I would also say while you should let them quit if they are not interested, they do have a part of the deal to keep up. If I have paid for ten weeks of piano lessons, they’re going to do ten weeks. If it is two months of gymnastics, they’re going to do two months. The child must know that they have to fulfill their commitment to whatever they signed up for.
Or maybe they like sports, but God bless ‘em, they’re just not cut out for it. No harm, no foul, see if they would be interested in another job with the team, such as a manager, or statistician. There is always a way to get involved with what you enjoy.
One good way to get your kids involved is to do something together. As I mentioned, my oldest daughter and I were involved in several community theatre productions, acting on stage with each other. My middle daughter played in the orchestra at church while I was one of the singers, and my son and I build and fly model rockets together. Doing things with a parent gives your children exposure to a wide range of activities, as well as quality time with you.
In addition, youth organizations such as the Scouts or 4H offer the chances for children to learn valuable skills, leadership, and participate within the community. These organizations can keep your child occupied, learning, and growing all year long.
Don’t assume extracurricular means “outside”. Sometimes it may be something as simple as reading or writing. My middle daughter loves to read, and I’ve seen her sit down and tackle 500 page novels over the course of a week.
So be patient, let your child find their place, and encourage them in their efforts. By letting them find their own “landing place”, you will both be a lot better off in the long term scheme of things.