"I hate piano. Why do I have to practice?"
"You can make me go to swimming, but I won't get in the pool!"
"Karate is sooooo boring now."
Do your kids want to drop out of lessons a few months after enrollment? Argh! You'd think we'd be thrilled to have less driving and more time at home in the evening, so why do we get so rattled when our kids announce they want to stop lessons?
I'll tell you: it's because in our minds we think if we allow them to drop out, we'll be raising a quitter -- a kid who doesn't have the fortitude to push on in the face of adversity. #QuittersSuck
Well sure, that's one way to look at it. However, when I ask parents how many things their child has actually dropped out of that makes them so worried about this quitter personality, it's usually only the first incident of a child throwing in the towel. That is hardly a quitter in the making!
Signing up for an extracurricular activity is a new experience that requires a child to venture into the unknown. Frankly, it takes some courage. If our children come to discover the activity is not interesting to them, or it doesn't meet their expectations in some way, we need to chalk it up to them having tried and made a mistake. C'est la vie! Good try! Try again!
I am reminded of my own experience of signing up for step classes at the local rec centre to burn off some of my post maternity weight, only to discover that I was the only grown woman incapable of learning the choreography of a simple step sequence -- ouch. I dropped out after the second class and thought to myself, "Thank goodness I am an adult and can drop out. If I was a kid, my parents might force me to go and hate that class for 10 more unbearable weeks!"
I can only imagine how hesitant I would be to sign up for the next new activity if my last one was excruciating and I was forced to stick it out. My solution would be to not try new things in the future. After all, what if they are all as hellish as step class?
So how do we draw the fine line between encouraging new experiences and helping kids push through the rough spots that might be discouraging? Here are my suggestions for handling lessons: