We have discovered a couple of great little books written by David Niven, Ph.d. entitled “The 100 simple secrets of Happy People” and “The 100 simple secrets of Happy Families”. The most interesting thing about these “secrets” is that they are all based on research. We will post a weekly tip at the ranch and here for you to consider…
Encourage, But Don’t Require Activities
How do we make sure children have enough to do without them winding up with too much to do? The standard boils down to encouraging verses requiring. All children should be encouraged to participate in a club or sports team, because those activities offer them the chance to interact socially with their peers outside the confines of school, while encouraging the development of new interests and skills. However, requiring children to participate changes the potentially fun experience into something that resembles a job. Give a child every opportunity to express an interest in something, and every opportunity to participate, and always encourage both. But don’t make demands.
Children who regularly participate in structured extracurricular activities (including clubs and sports teams) of their own choosing are 24% more likely to report that they like going to school – Gilman 2001
Boy, I can’t tell you the number of times we have seen parents drag their kids from one activity to another never allowing the kids to just have down time! Yes, kids should have the opportunity to explore dance, music, art , sports and anything else that they express an interest in, but once they try something, if they don’t express a real joy in it they should not be forced to continue. If you paid for 6 sessions I would expect them to finish the sessions, but after that, let them move on. And there is no reason to have a different activity every night of the week! You will wear them and yourselves out. Let them choose, “You seem to really like soccer and your art classes, but we can only do one (or maybe two) activities at a time, so you choose what you would like to do for now.”
Of course there is a difference between things that our children must do, such as go to school or attend therapy sessions. But when it’s time for our children to discover what they enjoy doing, we must offer them the opportunity to try as many things as possible. Maybe your daughter is the next great female soccer star or your son may be destined to be a concert pianist. But you will never know unless they have the opportunity to try new things.