Why does Lisa grumble when it's time for her to go for her piano lessons? How come Jack abhors the sight of his skates now? After all, these kids were very enthusiastic about the programs when they started off. What happened? Parents are often confused by the disturbing and often incongruous signals they receive from their kids. One day they're excited about the new theatre class and in just a few short weeks they wail and moan when it's time to go. The first thing a parent should do when your child begins resisting a previously loved activity is to listen and investigate. Don't immediately jump to conclusions. A bit of intelligent sleuthing is required.
Ask your son what he does in the class. Try to find out what exactly is the cause of his problem. Then ask the teacher or leader the same questions. Compare notes.
You may stumble on some important clues. Usually, children start out with a new activity thinking it's all fun and games. But when they realize they cannot just hang out and that they need to follow rules, they begin to resist and rethink. Your child may feel stifled if the program is too highly structured. If the discipline is too rigorous or the activity too painful (like a karate or ballet class), some children balk. Use your own instincts.
Does the program feel like fun? Would you want to attend it yourself? Are they offering enough motivation to keep your child interested? The teacher-to-child ratio is also an important factor. All children need attention. If the number of teachers is just enough to handle a class, it's possible that your child is not receiving enough personal attention. State recommendations usually specify that there must be 1 teacher for 15 children in an after school program. Try observing one class to see how things are handled.
Children try to avoid problems they can't solve. If there are no apparent problems with the class or the teachers, perhaps you need to have a chat with your child. If your judgment says that the place is good and the activity engaging enough, then it's time to work with your child. More often than not, social pressures may be at work here. Does your child have friends there? If she is lonely or miserable because of the lack of friends, help her find a friend. If she finds a friend, she'll get more involved in the activities.
If your best efforts don't pay off and your child still resists that fantastic guitar class, then it's time to let go. Shift her to some other program that will be fun and interesting. If she still retains interest in guitars, you can revisit guitar lessons again after a few months.
Never force her, especially when it comes to extra-curricular activities. Since they are 'extra', they must bring in extra happiness and extra enthusiasm too.
Karen Fusco is the co-author of "Busy Moms: The Heart and Soul of a Home", an ebook filled with time-saving and stress-reducing tips and ideas to help build a stronger home, a stronger family and a stronger you. Karen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.