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To 'Force' or Not to Force

August 7, 2013 - Amy Leigh Wilson
I got an email from a friend recently talking about all the clubs and activities that kids can join today. He was lamenting how quickly kids give up on activities and how parents can encourage them to stick with their choices. He even admitted that he forced his kids to try things that he thought would be a great experience for them. When I read the article on page 12, it got me thinking about how we help our kids find the activities they love. My son found sports right away and was committed from the time he was three years old. He’s also musically talented, but the desire to play in the school band just isn’t there. After forcing him to stick with it last year, we gave him a choice. He decided to quit band. While I was sad about his decision, I felt he was old enough to make the choice for himself. With my daughter, finding her niche was a little more difficult. We had one moment of success, the first time she picked up a saxophone and loved it. But athletically, she tried T-ball, gymnastics, ballet, tap, hip hop and volleyball. None gave her the rush she sought even though she moderately enjoyed them all. Then one day, as the tallest girl in her class, a friend asked her to play basketball. That was it, she found her love. She plays every day and competes seven months a year. It’s tough to know when to push and when to let your kid bow out gracefully from something they might be good at, but not fully enjoy. I hope this article helps you figure out when to cheer them towards a goal and when to back off and let them find their own way.


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