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Son wants no ECs, 10 yrs old


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My just turned 10 yr old son wants no ECs. (by EC, I mean outside activities of any kind)

 

He tends to be very lazy and gives up on things quickly. It is not like he has a bunch of interests at home that he can do. At home, he just wants to play computer games and whines a lot. He loved dancing, but in our small town (an hour from a large city, about an hour the other direction from a university town) there just was not anything for a boy. Every dance place near us just wants the boys in Hip Hop and they are not really accepting of a boy in ballet or tap like my son wants.

 

Our town is really growing faster than it has stuff for. He started a gymnastics class, but being really the only gym in our area, they are extremely crowded now. They need to expand, physical size wise. He loves it during home school class, which is during the day, not crowded. 

 

I am unsure if I should just give him a year off and then seek out activities in smaller environments. Or if I should start looking for activities in the university town or the city. 

 

What would you do in this situation? 

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Sounds tricky. If I were him I would probably be mildly depressed (a half step beyond "frustrated with no-one to take it out on"). It seems like taking a year off would just further instill the habit of not participating. I think I would try hard to come up with as large a list as possible of activities that spark even mild interest in him. Then I would drive to check them out and/or meet the instructors, check out the building, etc. Then work with him to figure out favorites/cheapest/closest-together/whatever and then buckle down and drive it. After a semester you can reevaluate.

 

I dislike driving, and I know it is expensive, but perhaps you will be able to find a happy groove.

 

Good luck!

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At his age you can so some stuff together - guitar lessons, couch to 5k, volunteer (church nursery, etc), build something (our summer project is a deck, but we'll see how that goes!!). Scouts is also a great nonsporty outlet.

 

The two things I would do today are: unplug all electronics (or limit to 30-45 minutes a day - if he can handle it without attitude) and end the whining. Summer is a great time to learn not to whine (since you have more time to role play, repeat, do over, retrain, discipline if needed),. often we let the kids whine becauae training them not to is too time consiming for our current lives. aummer is a great time to make a plan and do some training.

 

I'd also make sure he has meaningful chores - feed the dog, etc. and then let him know how important he is to the team. Lame chores annoy kids - real ones build confidence and pride.

 

With the no electeonics - it will lead to boredom...boredom leads to finding something to do - and maybe finding some passions or interests. Let him lead. Don't entertain. Dont give in. If he whines "I'm bored" - he gets a chore (a lame one). Suggest - bike ride, skateboard, braid some paracord bracelets, make a model, etc - or make a list - and provide raw materials, but let him learn to fill the time without you and without whining or a video game. I think you'll see some patterns and interests emerge that you can build on during the school year.

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I am surprised that the dance studios aren't jumping up and down at the idea of a boy interested in ballet and tap. It's very difficult to recruit boys, and they're definitely needed for shows. My ds11 is in a ballet class at a ballet school and a hip-hop class at another studio. At both studios, they want to recruit him for more dance classes--tap, jazz, ballroom--because it is SO hard to find boys interested in dance. If your ds is truly interested in ballet and tap, I'd pursue that and try to find a studio that's willing to work with him even if you need to go a ways for it.

 

My ds was kind of an Eeyore about extra-curriculars, as he is about many other things, but once he found dance, he looks forward to class every week, and is branching out into musical theater. Voluntarily, no less, who knew? I don't know if dance is the answer, but finding something that your ds enjoys is important, so I'd make the extra effort to involve him in what he's drawn to.

 

I'd also limit the computer games, and ignore the whining. I like the other suggestions you've gotten, too. With my Eeyore, filling his time with meaningful activity and giving him plenty of creative introvert downtime are equally important. It's a difficult balance to strike, as those seem almost like opposites, but he's happiest when we find that sweet spot. (FWIW, drawing has become a new interest, one he can pursue on his own, and something that satisfies his creative introvert side.)

 

Cat

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Some thoughts--

 

Is he an introvert? Maybe some activites that are not group-based would be good.

 

 

Is he confident in his abilities? Some kids are not competitive, so sports teams (for one example) aren't that attractive.

 

Has he tried scouting or CAP?

 

Does he want something with less commitment--is he scared to get locked in to something he won't be able to quit later if he doesn't like it?

 

I tend to overgeneralize WRT video gaming, so this is just my perspective. I've seen kids who, once they start entering into that world, just don't want to interact in this one. They can control the world so easily, and do things they can't here; it can become more attractive than real life in some ways. It's just...easier! And many times, just plain fascinating.

 

So, I'd limit or fast from video gaming for a while and see what else develops.

 

Also, I would not be opposed to driving for something really worthwhile--an orchestra experience, a good scout group, 4H, youth group, art class, martial arts, dance, etc.

 

Does he have meaningful work to do at home?

 

Does he want you to participate with activities at home--Lots of kids are sent off to do stuff on their own, and while they may develop that "go occupy yourself" skill, they really want to engage. Because you are approaching the teen years,  where having a super strong relationship will pay off BIG time, I'd take a good look at why he's whining and why he is not finding things to do at home. If he needs relationship, then give him your time and attention--do projects together, letting him chose once in a while.

 

 

 

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No matter what you do, limit the computer games and make sure he gets enough sleep and eats and hydrates properly, and gets outside and engages in movement.

 

Whining is best addressed with chores and work, not academics and EC. Boys need to WORK and they need to be around men if at all possible.

 

ECs are such a new thing really. They are not traditionally a big part of the life of children. Homeschoolers tend to use them to receate some of what parents fear children are missing by not attending PS. What did children do before ECs?

 

ECs were not a part of my boys' lives even before they started homeschooling. I got very sick when they were in early elementary and when I got better, we never jumped back into ECs. They are expensive and disruptive to an orderly family schedule. ECs have replaced WORK in the lives of children, and I don't think with better results.

 

I'm not addressing when a child loves a SPECIFIC activity. I'm just addressing the role of ECs in GENERAL in the lives of modern children.

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You have got some great suggestions. IMO, ds needs to be exposed to new ideas, new challenges in order to stretch and grow. Even if you have to pressure him.

 

I am wondering if some out of the box, unusual activities might be something to try. Fencing, chess, ham radio, model rocketry, animation. You only need one activity to hook him and bring him out of his shell. In your place I would travel to find a good activity, if time and money permit.

 

I think Chris made a good point about using gaming to escape.

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Perhaps volunteer opportunities would suit him better at this point.  My 11 year old son volunteers at the Humane Society weekly (with me) and at the church food outreach every other Saturday (with his dad).  Both are glad for his help, and in both roles he is given meaningful responsibilities and not just treated "like a kid".  He really thrives on this.  This might not suit all kids, but he loves it.

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No matter what you do, limit the computer games and make sure he gets enough sleep and eats and hydrates properly, and gets outside and engages in movement.

 

Whining is best addressed with chores and work, not academics and EC. Boys need to WORK and they need to be around men if at all possible.

 

ECs are such a new thing really. They are not traditionally a big part of the life of children. Homeschoolers tend to use them to receate some of what parents fear children are missing by not attending PS. What did children do before ECs?

 

ECs were not a part of my boys' lives even before they started homeschooling. I got very sick when they were in early elementary and when I got better, we never jumped back into ECs. They are expensive and disruptive to an orderly family schedule. ECs have replaced WORK in the lives of children, and I don't think with better results.

 

I'm not addressing when a child loves a SPECIFIC activity. I'm just addressing the role of ECs in GENERAL in the lives of modern children.

Almost every time I read one of your posts I say, "See, someone else thinks the exact same way but I've never put it into words."

 

I too believe this. We have an only child that we took out on the road with us just before she was 6 years old. Some people mention socialization to me and I always get super defensive. 1. She's an only child. 2. She's homeschooled. 3. She's in the truck with her parents 24/7.

 

Issue for us is that before we did this job, I didn't put her in any classes for dance, gymnastics, or whatever else there is. I am extremely social but I'm 10-15 years older than most women in our area that have children the same age. I found no common ground with other moms. I went back to school (when she was 3) at the age of 40 so I made no new friends at school. I've always felt like I was a mismatch and I know it may affect her. I'm just aware if it all the time.

 

I try not to tear myself up to much but the idea that EC's are required frustrated me. Sorry about high jacking the post. Ok, rant over.

 

Michelle

 

P. S. The lady in the profile picture is my mom. I really should change it to one of me but I just love that picture. :D

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We tried many activities before we found a few that my son enjoys.  We've done soccer, basketball, fencing, archery, karate, kendo, swimming, and I'm sure others I can't think of right now.  He enjoys basketball, LOVES kendo, does an art class and also boy scouts.  He plays an instrument (electric bass) which he likes enough to practice daily.  Kendo and music lessons are year round, basketball he only does over the winter, and art here and there when he wants to.  Scouts is during the school year.

 

It may just take some time and experimentation to find something your son enjoys doing.  My son would almost always rather be home playing with his friends or on the XBox, but he knows video games are strictly limited, especially when it's nice outside.  I do feel that participation in some extra curricular activities is important and finding something you really enjoy doing is so worthwhile.

 

Be patient and try everything.

 

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I would put him back in dance. Our studio has ONE boy in tap and, now that everyone is used to it, it isn't a big deal anymore. Male dancers are in high demand in many areas. Maybe he can find another activity he enjoys (art, model building, shooting sports) that would allow him to get involved with a group.

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Unfortunately, EC's are now a necessity because all kids are in them or in daycare, and putting the kids in extended EC's is more "cool" and attractive than After Care.  It's the unfortunate truth that, until 5:30, every neighborhood we've ever lived in, is a ghost town!  The families all get home at 5:30 and then they still go out sometimes for more after school activities.  Even in the most kid-friendly neighborhood we ever lived in, the other kids were only around 3 days per week.  And if your child is an only child, it can be VERY VERY loneley.  So, while I look with nostalgia on my 1980's childhood in the country playing outside every day from 3-6:00 with all my neighborhood friends, and attending a small, safe, Catholic school, I realize that one problem I NEVER had was loneliness.

 

So, I disagree. Sure, deal with whining  BUt I think very strongly that you need to be out and about with other human beings, and it's up to you to make it happen.  I cannot imagine how crazy I would have been as a child if I spent all my days with one person and then on top of it didn't have my brothers and sisters and neighborhood friends, and I lean towards the introvert side!  I would have been depressed and I think anyone would be!  There's a reason that some people went crazy on the prairie.  

 

I look at my own extrovert dd and I feel bad for her and she HAS a brother, and several activities, but it STILL gets lonely because she's not seeing fun, interesting engaging people every day.  I have to work to make homeschooling a healthy situation for her.

 

 

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All the other kids go to brick and mortar school, too. I don't believe that homeschoolers need to do ECs just because everyone else is.

 

Homeschooled children that primarily socialize with adults are just as healthy as those around a lot of other children. Other children are like candy; too much of a good thing will make them rotten. Of course they cry for more time with other children. Just because they cry for something doesn't mean that they need it, or it's good for them.

 

ECs can be a healthy activity, but not doing ECs is not any less healthy. People need people, yes. We are social creatures. We are more like chimpanzees than orangoutangs. We need time with our kind.

 

If a child is not socializing with the adults but is instead being constantly pushed aside and told to be silent, that is another story. But if the child is interacting with adults they will be fine. Since time began some children have joined their parents on their adventures, and statistically these children grow up to be grounded, healthy and interesting adults.

 

For every one thing these adult socialized children cannot do, that the average child can do, there are two or three interesting and useful things these children can do. If the child is confident about their GENERAL abilities, they will not feel shaken when not able to do a certain expected skill/activity. Eskimo children don't generally worry that they don't know how to climb palm trees, and tropical children seldom worry that they don't know how to ice fish. No one knows how to do everything. We learn the things we need to do to survive and enjoy OUR environment. That's enough, as long as we know it's enough; other people usually believe about us, what we believe about ourselves.

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I am surprised that the dance studios aren't jumping up and down at the idea of a boy interested in ballet and tap. It's very difficult to recruit boys, and they're definitely needed for shows. My ds11 is in a ballet class at a ballet school and a hip-hop class at another studio. At both studios, they want to recruit him for more dance classes--tap, jazz, ballroom--because it is SO hard to find boys interested in dance. If your ds is truly interested in ballet and tap, I'd pursue that and try to find a studio that's willing to work with him even if you need to go a ways for it.

 

My ds was kind of an Eeyore about extra-curriculars, as he is about many other things, but once he found dance, he looks forward to class every week, and is branching out into musical theater. Voluntarily, no less, who knew? I don't know if dance is the answer, but finding something that your ds enjoys is important, so I'd make the extra effort to involve him in what he's drawn to.

 

I'd also limit the computer games, and ignore the whining. I like the other suggestions you've gotten, too. With my Eeyore, filling his time with meaningful activity and giving him plenty of creative introvert downtime are equally important. It's a difficult balance to strike, as those seem almost like opposites, but he's happiest when we find that sweet spot. (FWIW, drawing has become a new interest, one he can pursue on his own, and something that satisfies his creative introvert side.)

 

Cat

You son sounds just like mine.  He loves drawing and dance and theater. He loved being in the Nutcracker last year. We drove a distance for that. We considered going to that studio, but they offer ballet only, no tap. He really has wanted tap.

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I don't see the need go EC but he does need to find a way to get adequate exercise and it is useful to have a club type activity when you move to a new town - chess, bridge, swordplay makes no difference. And whining and only be able able to be able to entertain himself with a computer needs watching.

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