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7yr olds and extracurriculars


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#1 lovinmyboys

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:15 PM

Do you make 7yr olds do them? Before kids, I always thought I would want my kids doing a sport and an art. My first two kids we started extracurriculars at 5 and it has all gone fine. They have mostly been ok trying things, then if they don’t like it we don’t sign up again.

Ds7 started extracurriculars at age 6 (because at 5 he was so darn obstinate). He really doesn’t want to do anything, but I want him to be exposed to things outside our house. Also, sometimes if we are already at an activity it would be nice if he participated so I could have some break time. Most of the time he ends up liking stuff after a few weeks, but he never wants to sign up or go the first time. Today he had a meltdown and was screaming “promise me you won’t sign me up for anything else without asking me.”

So, would you promise this? He can swim well enough (swimming is something I would make him do), but the rest of the activities aren’t a safety issue. I want him to try new things, be well rounded, get exercise, etc. But, I don’t know how much to force.

Edited by lovinmyboys, 11 January 2018 - 06:17 PM.


#2 eternalsummer

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:21 PM

Make 7 year olds do them?  I do not have enough money to make a 7 year old do an extracurricular :)  Mostly mine are still playing at that age, although DD6 is in gymnastics (by her demand).

 

He can get exercise running around your house or backyard.  When I was a kid, most kids didn't do extracurriculars until say 10 or so; we turned out okay :)

 

 


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#3 Diana P.

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:31 PM

At 7 my oldest was required 2 sports fall, winter, spring. One was swimming. The other was his choice. He had to finish the season and then try something new if he didn't like it.

In summer he did swim team daily.

My oldest had motor skill problems. Going to many different physical activities was cheaper than physical therapy.

These activities were also a little bit social and we did work on social stuff a lot.

Left to his own devices he would have stayed home and played Legos by himself.

#4 MinivanMom

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:34 PM

I wouldn't make that promise, because it would feel like I was handing too much authority over to a 7-yr-old.

 

But . . . in our house, I do not sign my kids up for activities without their consent. I feel like extra-curricular activities should be their thing, so I don't feel comfortable choosing for them. Plus, I don't have the time or the money to drag an unwilling kid to an activity or stand over them while they practice. 

 

I have one kid that really did not want to do any activities of any kind up until he was about 7, and I really worried about that. He's just so different from our older children who were always begging to do more activities. He still needs a little patience and encouragement to start an activity, but once he gets going, he generally loves it. We just continued to expose him to different things and be very encouraging. But I think that if we had forced him to do things or had signed him up without his buy-in, it would have backfired in a huge way. 



#5 regentrude

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:36 PM

My kids had no interest in organized sports at that age. I asked, and they got to say yes or no.

They had piano lessons at home, nothing else.

 


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#6 solascriptura

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:38 PM

I make my 7 year old do some and not others. Some are worth the extra push and others are not. I do push mine to do the Swim team because I stress fitness in our family.

#7 Raifta

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:45 PM

Our one required activity has always been swimming lessons because we have a house by a lake.  But even that we don't do every session (there are typically 3 sessions - fall, winter and spring and then you can do one to two week lessons in the summer).

 

One of my kids wanted to do everything.  And she did.  She usually did between 3 and 6 activities each season - it kept us hopping but she loved it.

 

The other one wanted to do nothing.  And he mostly did.  He did the homeschool gym class because it was 'gym and swim' and they were one after the other at the same location.  Aside from that he didn't want to do anything until he was 8 and he tried guitar.  I was totally fine with that because between DD's activities and the fact that DH and I also participate in sports outside the house, we were busy enough.  If DS didn't want to try something, I wasn't going to make him.  Now, at 10, he's also tried gymnastics and Cub Scouts and enjoyed both.  But before last year when he was 9, he really didn't enjoy being around other kids a lot and was fine with no activites/solo activities like guitar.

 

So, in short, I wouldn't push them with the possible exception of swimming.  But each kid and family dynamic is different!



#8 Catwoman

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 06:48 PM

I have never forced my son to participate in extracurriculars unless he wanted to do them. I didn’t see any point in it.
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#9 WoolySocks

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 07:07 PM

If this were a child in school, I may say yes, for the 6 months and re-evaluate.

 

For a homeschooled child, I don't think it's unreasonable that a parent would decide to out source something like PE or art or music or want to give their child a taste of a more structured educational situation.   Since my kids are homeschooled, many of the classes and activities we've done over the years I've considered part of their educations.   That said, my kids mostly enjoyed these.  When my oldest was in school for 2 years, he did not enjoy them as much.   I would often give them a choice of an art class.  They both picked their own musical instrument and are still at it 8 and 11 years later.   I gave many choices for sports and physical activities.

 

Swim lessons also were a non-negotiable and they were for me as a child as well.  It took both my kids many, many years to get through Red Cross level 6 and we took breaks. but that was well worth the time.  When we took breaks, we tried to swim more as a family. 


Edited by WoolySocks, 11 January 2018 - 07:48 PM.

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#10 amo_mea_filiis.

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 07:14 PM

It depends.

I had to force my son to attend drum lessons and swimming lessons. He was an absolute perfect student for the instructors though. I just dealt with meltdowns and crap before and after.

It’s paid off for us. He’s been playing drums for 5 years and is amazing. He’s also been allowed to stay at the pool alone years before he was supposed to. They love him and he actually helps when the Y camp is there.

Other activities I’ve forced and none have stuck. He’s done gymnastics (forced in place of physical therapy, doesn’t have the flexibility to move up much), homeschool band, homeschool gym at the Y, and a few other things. Young Marines is puttering along, but neither of us are feeling it anymore.

#11 Farrar

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 07:16 PM

My kids were very easygoing about activities at that age. However, I always gave them some choices. Life shouldn't be a surprise - especially for kids that age, most of whom need a lot of stability in their routines and expectations of what's going on. And extracurriculars should always involve some choice. Obviously some families have limited funds and/or options available, but when you do, let the kids pick.

 

I did "require" that my kids do some sort of athletic thing, even at that age. But if they had been really resistant, I probably would have re-evaluated. Seven is young.


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#12 Bluegoat

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 07:47 PM

No, I don't think I would make him.  I'd find something casual if necessary for social time.

 

So far, I've really let kids lead on wen they are ready to start things, and I've not regretted it.  I'm still waiting for ds8 to be willing to take swimming lessons - he tried last year with his friend, but he just really doesn't want to be in the water.  


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#13 Julie Smith

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 10:07 PM

My kids pretty much have always had piano. At the age of 7 or so we would occasionally do short term things without much effort required for the kids. A one hour library class using duct tape,... that kid of thing.

When they got a bit older I made the rule that everyone in the house has to be part of two activities that meet regularly (weekly, more or less). One activity that uses your mind, one your body. Many activities can fall into both categories, you can pick which one.

I do running club (my body) and dancing (my mind)
Dh joins me for dancing when he is able (body) and takes Japanese classes (mind)
Kids do running club (body) and piano (mind) and now days several other things.

I have sometimes got them to try other activites, most of them one offs, as in field trips. Because of that they have tired several things at the library and other places. They now do indoor rock climbing once or twice a month, and teen group twice a month. They are also currently playing a long board game with friends who come over for dinner ever other week. About a year or two ago I did have my last talk with them about how it’s good to try things. That conversation hasn’t been needed since then.

Now they do running club twice a week, piano once a week, and french tutoring mostly weekly. French tutoring is playing card and dice games for 90 minutes. They have Teen group ever other week. Once or twice a month they also do swimming as a family, and rock climbing with some other kids. So now they are busy with stuff, and I don’t mind partly because with the exception of rock climbing everything is walking distance. I don’t even have to leave the house when they have piano or teen group.

But at the age of 7 they had no interest in activites, espically if I didn’t also do them. (now that I think about it, they did like that about once a week we all would go to the pool just to play and swim. For almost a year I also took their best friend with us. But it was not in any way a class or group activity. )

#14 rainbowmama

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 10:53 PM

My seven year old plays an instrument, which he loves. He sometimes does sports, but not all year round. 



#15 Rach

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 11:01 PM

I wouldn’t make them do an activity at age 7. I might encourage it though.

I had my kids do a PE class for homeschoolers for a year. It was 45 minutes of swimming and an hour 15 minutes of typical PE games and sports once a week. I knew my oldest would enjoy the activities and playing with other kids but he kept saying he didn’t want to do any sports. This was a good compromise as it gave him exposure to several different sports in a very low key environment. He has always disliked the idea of trying new things but eventually asked if he could play basketball at age 9.
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#16 hjffkj

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 11:26 PM

The only thing they are required to do is take swimming lessons. Well I guess required isn't true but they know if they choose not to take them they will be sitting on the bench at the pool on the days we go without dh, which is every weekday in the summer. With 5 kids, 2 that can't swim at all yet I can not supervise a kid who chose not to learn when the opportunity was offered. They have all taken the lessons even when they didn't want to

#17 SKL

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 12:54 AM

I think 7 is a little young to be entirely in charge of what extracurriculars he's going to do, but I'd take his preferences into account and involve him in the decisions.  I would insist that he do some minimum amount of exercise most days, I don't care what kind as long as it's active.  Is there an activity you can do with him?  When my girls were that age, we did TKD together.

 

My kids' real preferences didn't start to emerge until they were more like 8/9yo.  Few activities were a pure bust or a pure joy.  Therefore I continued "making" them do different things until clear preferences / talents emerged.  Though, my kids usually acquiesced to my choices at 7yo.


Edited by SKL, 12 January 2018 - 12:58 AM.


#18 Elizabeth86

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 01:03 AM

My boys are 6 and 4. We tried tball and soccer. I signed them up because that's what good moms do, right? Lots of activities. They never enjoyed it. at all. So, last soccer season the whole family was miserable, so we swore of extracurricular activities until our oldest is in 3rd grade minimum. I want to get him invomved in something, but there aren't a lot of options really besides sports that would not be a long drive. I grew up doing barely any exrras and I was fine. I enjoyed my relaxed childhood. I have always been an introvert that craves lots of downtime and my kids seem to be this way as well.
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#19 Minniewannabe

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 06:26 AM

I always made my kids do one sport and play one instrument. But, I never had a kid refuse so I am not sure what I would have done. I do not know if they never refused because they knew the rules since birth, though. If I had young children now, I would expand the list to include a performing art like acting, also. I am astounded how much the performing arts teach children communication, work ethic, self confidence, and resourcefulness.

I can say my kids have almost no say so in their own lives until they jump out of my wallet, or, at least, I retain all veto power. I would consider a 7 year old’s request, but, certainly still make him do it if I felt it would be beneficial. Seven year olds really cannot always determine secondary causes of why they do not want to try a new thing such as fear showing knees in soccer shorts or making a fool of themselves in a comedy class.

#20 LindaOz

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 07:06 AM

My 7yo does violin because we are a musical family and she has sisters that play. Also we did a term of swimming lessons late last year. But that's all. I like lots of home time at this age...not a lot of 'outside' activities. I wouldn't force a 7yo to do activities that didn't involve me. We'd just do things that i could do with them like park visits or play dates with other families etc.

Edited by LindaOz, 12 January 2018 - 07:08 AM.


#21 LindaOz

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 07:07 AM

Sorry. Double post.

Edited by LindaOz, 12 January 2018 - 07:08 AM.


#22 skimomma

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 08:53 AM

We had the loose rule (made before we knew anything about raising children) that dd must be involved in one arts activity and one physical activity at any given time.  At 7, that meant trying out different things, always with her input.  Dd was always eager to try just about anything.  Had she resisted, I would not have forced it.  She "specialized" in an art right away at age 4 and is still pursuing it as a high schooler.  She hopped from one physical activity to another during the 4-10yo stage and settled on one main physical activity at age 10 that is year-round but relies heavily on cross-training. She still dabbles in others whenever the opportunity arises.  I did insist on swimming lessons until dd passed at least level 4.  That was a fight but worth it as we are on water almost daily in the summer.  Ironically, she ended up choosing to try a whole year of swim team at one point.  She ended up not loving it but obviously got over her resentment of the forced swim lessons enough to temporarily embrace the sport.  And she made some good friends.  

 

In your case, I would drop it aside from safety or PT concerns.  Life is too short.  A little nudge here and there is worth a try but I would not drag an unwilling child into any activity unless I had very good reasons to do so.  A "good" reason in my book includes knowing your child might need to be dragged once or twice but ultimately ends up embracing activities once the initial resistance is overcome.



#23 BarbecueMom

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:13 AM

I do require them to answer to someone besides me, around age 6 or 7, although they were all eager to start activities at 4-5.  If they were already going to school, I'd be more lenient on this, but they need to see that it's not just mom that requires them to do things.  And then I get to be the cheerleader for once (which is also why I don't coach anything they do - DH will assist or base coach but that's it).

 

I still have to nudge DS8 to put in the effort at activities he chose.  He's the kind of kid that could entertain himself with air, so he's always leaving something fun behind to practice music or go to hockey.  But I do let him choose, even though he has the two most expensive activities in the house.  It was more difficult at 7, but has turned a corner a few months into age 8.  Not nearly as much resistance.



#24 HelenNotOfTroy

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 09:20 AM

I require yearly swimming lessons (2 weeks in the summer) and we go to church. At 7, that was all he did. In fact, we didn't start any other outside the home activities until 9 other than occasionally and irregularly, except for park days.



#25 TABmom

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 11:23 AM

I'm not saying you should do this- but I had a kid like this. He had to be dragged to everything even if he actually liked it. He never wanted to try anything new. Once he refused to get out of the car and had an absolute meltdown over trying Awana at a different church- a church where we went to co-op, so he knew lots of the kids and the church was not unfamiliar. Anyway, long story short, he's now on anti-anxiety/antidepressants and he's a different kid. He actually suggested trying the chess club at the library and went only knowing one person who might be there. Not even at our regular library. He goes to lots of things now without any problems, enjoys them, and doesn't complain at all! I am NOT saying your kid should be on meds- not AT ALL. But it is something to consider. (My dd is 10 now- he started meds at 8)

#26 happypamama

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 11:41 AM

Make? No. Totally nonessential.

DD was doing ballet at 7. I started her in mommy and me “preballet” at about 18 months. NOT because I wanted her to be a superstar ballerina. Mainly because it would get us out of the house and give us something fun to do. She looooooved it. So we did that for a while (and also tried swimming and tumbling for fun too — our old town had inexpensive low pressure parks and rec classes in 8 week session). We tried storytime at the library but she was so bored. (It really wasn’t interesting.). The parks were empty during the day. We did go to babywearing meetings but we didn’t really live close enough for those to yield play dates for her. But ballet! It was just the thing.

When we moved here when DD was almost 5, we took some time off, but she was begging for ballet again, so we found a nice local studio that was good and not high pressure. She danced with them until she was 10 and got tired of ballet. At that point, we had four kids and money was right, so we didn’t do any EC other than trips and things with our homeschool group for a couple more years.

DD was 12, and DS1 was 9 when we started doing martial arts at a wonderful studio with homeschool classes. DS1 hadn’t done any ECs until then, but he’s a shyer sort of kid and didn’t like leaving my side. We debated signing DS2 up for them, as he was only 5, but personality-wise, he really wanted to, and since all three could go together in the same class, we signed him up. I would probably not have signed up a 5yo on his own. Maybe if he was asking. Totally not essential. Our current 6yo tried MA with the others when he was 4, but I don’t think he was really ready to be the youngest in a mixed age class, even with as lovely and gentle as our instructor is. He’s a quieter personality than DS2 though.

All that to say, it depends on the situation and the kid. I wouldn’t insist upon it, but I could see encouraging it in the right circumstance. But I would definitely not find it essential. There’s always time for kids to find their passions later. It might also depend on what was available. 8 week rec center classes to try something? I might strongly encourage those, and if we had them, I’d probably heavily suggest to my kids that they try some because kids don’t always know what’s out there. And with homeschooling, sometimes we have to be more intentional about exposing them to things outside of our experiences. How does a kid know he might have a passion for art, music, sports, math, etc. if his parents aren’t really into something? So sometimes we need to make a special point to spread a feast. But when we’re talking about expensive, heavy commitment activities — I think it’s okay not to do those things at 7.

(Does any of my rambling make sense? Lol.)

Edited by happypamama, 12 January 2018 - 12:07 PM.


#27 SparklyUnicorn

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 11:56 AM

Nope.  Sometimes they needed encouragement (and occasionally I bribed thinking that I know they'd like it if they tried it), but I never really forced it.  And I really could not afford to pay for stuff my kid wasn't interested in.

 

Only time I "forced" the issue is if they agreed to join something and wanted to quit before a commitment was completed.  I made them finish stuff if this would be problematic to the group or I had paid money I could not get back.

 

 



#28 ScoutTN

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 12:10 PM

Make him? Probably not. But I would not make that promise either. Seven year olds in my family do not get to decide what is best. They most certainly do get to express their opinions and make some choices.

 

My kids started piano lessons at age 7. I consider this an integral part of school, not extra-curricular.

My kids have done and art and drama tutorial, but didn't start until they were 8 or 9. Again, part of school, not an extra. 

Swimming is not optional here, so my kids did lessons and summer swim team until they reached a level of mastery that I am comfortable with.

 

Exercise is good, but that can be accomplished in lots of ways. Some kids don't love team sports or group things generally. Is he introverted? Can you assess what is causing the stress over starting new things?



#29 Elizabeth86

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 04:17 PM

[quote name="Minniewannabe" post="7957074" timestamp="1515756370"]



I can say my kids have almost no say so in their own lives until they jump out of my wallet, or, at least, I retain all veto power.

wow!
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#30 displace

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 05:25 PM

Another atypical situation here, so take it with a grain of salt. We did swim lessons until proficient. I required sports 3-4 days per week (of sports I offered-choosing from the choices), plus usually one day of free play park stuff. It was mostly for PE and therapy (physical and social). We don’t play outside regularly enough for the kids to get required exercise due to various factors. I’ve not required sports for the summer and fall as much, and we will be starting back soon. I do let the kids play the sport as long as they like it, then switch to another choice.

If my kids didn’t need therapy sports, and they got a good 5-6 days of solid 1-2 hours exercise, I’d not care or force it. I’d probably take them on walks or bike rides or runs. I would also consider a sports rotation class, where they introduce different sports just to have exposure. Here, a lot of school PE isn’t sport game oriented until middle school, with elementary age just playing kickball and fake basketball.

#31 displace

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 05:33 PM

ETA- I believe art and music are important and we had piano and guitar for a bit, but because of disabilities, I stopped. We will be starting again, as hopefully with age and maturity it may be easier now. I’d expose art and music in different ways if you’re getting a lot of pushback. I played piano as a child for years, and started to resent it. I think exposure is good, so I allow instrument rotation after lessons on a prior instrument have been done for a few months. If art is hated, try a different medium or even art appreciation.

FWIW, a lot of people who despise a lot of sports and physical coordination activities (or are bad at them), may have a low level physical disability and not know it. Dyspraxia is a very common condition and may just manifest as clumsiness or delayed physical maturity. I’m not suggesting the OP family has this, but just for random readers of my post... 😁

#32 lovinmyboys

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 05:34 PM

Thanks everyone. Lots of good thoughts. I think he does have some anxiety, which causes him to not want to try new things. He also is an introvert and loves to just stay home. He also doesn’t really like people telling him what to do- he loves his free time.

Some of his complaints about certain activities are things I think he needs to work through. Like, he likes basketball games but doesn’t like doing the drills- so he wants to go to games but not practices (that isn’t really an option). Or, with swimming, he didn’t like doing the breaststroke at all and I don’t know why. He also doesn’t really like to do things he isn’t great at right away, and I think that is something extracurriculars can help with.

Sometimes I want him to do the activity because our family is all there, so instead of just sitting and waiting he actually gets something out of it. If he were my oldest, I probably wouldn’t sign him up for stuff, but since other kids are doing things we are out anyway. I also do at least tell him what I have signed him up for- it isn’t a surprise. I don’t always ask because he would say no. And I don’t intentionally sign him up for things I think he would hate.

In general, he hates trying new things. After he does the activity, he usually does like it. But, if I left it up to him, he would never choose to do the activity. This helped me clarify when to “make” him and when to let it go. In some ways he seems older than seven, I forget he is still fairly young.

It is difficult sometimes to parent the child in front of me. In my parenting ideals, the kids would do a brain activity and physical activity. But, is it really worth hitting that ideal if the kid clearly would prefer not to. Knowing when to let it go and when to insist upon it is hard.

Edited by lovinmyboys, 12 January 2018 - 05:42 PM.

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#33 Wabi Sabi

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 05:55 PM

I have pretty much always expected my kids, once school aged, to participate in at least one or two activities outside of the house. Of course I'd take their likes, dislikes and requests into consideration, but I would want my 7 year old to do *something.* It could be a sport, a music lessons, scouts, an art class, pretty much anything they wanted. For my kids I simply thought it was important that they have some time to experience being in a group of peers and learning to listen and take instruction from adults other than Mom and Dad.