With summer vacation here, how do you choose the right programs or activities for your kids?
Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes it’s not. Lots of agendas are involved when schedules and locations are important in choosing activities year-round.
When choosing activities, consider:
- This is for your child, not you. Of course it must work for you, but try not to project what you loved as a kid, or what you wish you had gotten to do.
- Do not sign your child up for something you think she will like and then inform her what she will be doing.
- Make suggestions but not directions. “What about…? If I were you, I would love that – but that’s me.”
- Go over general categories—day or sleep away camp, sports programs, theater programs, horse camps, art or music programs, etc. Then include your child (if old enough) in some of the research. The more your child is involved, the more engaged he will be and the less you will be blamed if it doesn’t work out.
- Job-aged kids need your help and support during the job search, but not your leg-work. Acknowledge the difficulty, share your experiences, be open to hear the griping, offer suggestions, but do not do the work.
Many children change their minds, and fears arise about quitting and teaching commitment. This is not limited to summer activities. What do you do when money has been spent? Or children who begged for a program dig in their heals and refuse to go after a couple of sessions? Others start off resisting but with gentle prodding find that once involved they love it.
This is normal and shouldn’t be cause for worry that your child will never be able to make commitments. This is their time of learning what they like and don’t like. Taking responsibility for being a counted-on team member is not necessary until a team really does count on its teammates.
You may never know how far to push and when to back off. Trial and error is often your only guide. After a situation does not work out, talk about it with your child. Never place blame for a change of mind or heart. Discuss ways to evaluate a program for future planning. What worked, what didn’t. Get your child in the habit of looking back, learning from experience, and moving forward with new self-knowledge.