I was reading about a mother, Judy Arnall, who paid $120 for swim lessons for her 7-year-old son. When the first day of lesson came around, he didn't want to go. She did the "nudge, but don't force" method and encouraged him to try it out for one day. That's it. He tried it, decided he didn't like it, and that was that. One day of swim lesson ended up costing $120.
Now I know a lot could have been done with that $120. But we shouldn't force our kids into something they don't want to do. Or should we? Granted, I do force a hand-hold when crossing the street, but this is something different. Forcing a child to take a swim class when they've already made up their mind they aren't interested (even if at first they were) could be damaging, right?
It really all depends on the kid. You know that saying "mother knows best"? That might serve us well here. My daughter is the type to not want to try anything at first. She says she's "shy." She's almost 3 and shy isn't a word I'd use to describe her. But when she's new to a situation, that shyness does come out and she wants "uppy now" and buries her head in my chest. Give her a few minutes and she's outgoing, bubbly, and social. She needs those few minutes of reassurance. Just like what happened when we put her and her twin brother in preschool.
We recently moved to a new town and it's been slow going making friends with parents who have kids around my twins' age. I thought a preschool type setting would be perfect for them to play, learn, and make friends and it's just a few hours for three days a week. We scraped the money together to send them and it's been tears each day for two weeks. I may have cried more than the two of my kids combined though, as the teachers tell me as soon as I leave both kids are fine and end up having a great time. I broke my heart to leave her when she was so upset. I thought about taking my daughter out of school because it seemed to be the most traumatic on her. The last thing I wanted to do was to pry my screaming baby out of my arms and leave her. But we stuck with it. Each morning I was able to leave sooner and sooner; and today she not only didn't cry when I left, after school she told me more about what she did in class than she ever had. "We played with markers! And PlayDoh! And show-n-tell with my unicorn! It's was birthday for Hailee!"
I'm glad we stuck with it, but knowing my daughter, I really felt she was going to come around and not be "shy" anymore.
Still, sometimes, for certain kids, losing the money you paid for something is what needs to be done. Hopefully we can recoup at least part of the fees. It's all about trust for the kids. If they tell us they hate something, we have to trust they know what's right for them. Building that trust starts young. I certainly want my kids to trust me once they reach their teens. That's the time I will worry about their choices the most, but with trust, on both sides, maybe we will all be better off.
What do you think? Should we force our kids to stick with something even when they say they don't want to?
Image via Natesh Ramasamy/Flickr