Posted: Nov 25, 2012 4:26 PM
Updated: Nov 25, 2012 4:28 PM
My kids have always done extracurricular activities. They've played soccer, took ice skating lessons, played hockey, particpated in plays, and much more. Currently, they both are active in Cub Scouts and take gymnastics. One of them plays an instrument in the school band. Some days they whine about having to go to gymnastics or scouts. They complain that they are tired of it and want to just stay home.
However, I don't give them a choice. Most of the time it is a whim, it happens once a month or every couple of months. They decide they just need a day off. Sometimes it is more and that is why they no longer do hockey or karate. These activities were genuinely not a good fit for my boys. It got to the point where they were always unhappy and never wanted to go. So I let them quit.
Kids deserve a choice, within reason. It's ok for them to say they don't like something or decide not to participate, but they have to at least stick it out to get my money's worth and make sure it's not just a whim. I always ask for a free trial or get a lesson or two for free or discounted before committing to a program. Usually places that offer lessons for kids will offer these types of deals before asking parents to pay for two or three months. This gives me a good idea of whether we should pursue it or not.
When it comes to Cub Scouts, they don't really have a choice. My husband and I think this program teaches boys how to work as a team, how to be good citizens, and gives them a sense of community. They will stay in Cub Scouts until they are old enough to move up to Boy Scouts and then they can choose whether to move on from there.
They both love gymnastics, so they are actually the ones sticking with that activity. They started as a way to learn parkour and learn to control their bodies. Some classes are more difficult than others and to be honest, I don't always want to sit for an hour and watch 10 little kids jump around. It is something that is going to help them as they get older and they have fun!
I hope they understand that quitting because you have a bad day isn't an option. One day when they are older I hope they'll be thankful they weren't allowed to give up just because it got a little difficult. I can remember practicing piano every single day and hating my mom for it. However, I now appreciate being able to read music and I enjoy spending a little time playing the piano. I'm thankful I wasn't allowed to quit.
How about you: Do you allow your kids to quit activities? Do you force them, regardless? How do you draw the line?