How much whinging is normal prior to extra-curricular activities? When do you force them to go and when do you allow them to give up?

(22 Posts)
superfluouscurves Mon 14-Jan-13 16:15:54

DD (9 yrs) , does ballet twice a week and tennis once a week. (Tennis is just across the road and only 40 mins so very hassle-free.)

She goes through phases of loving ballet, then phases of being v. reluctant to go. Atm she is going through a very tedious refusenik stage (although we make her go of course because we're paid up until Easter). We've told her that she can't suddenly decide to give up on a freezing Monday night because she's tired and has maths hwk. The decision has to be considered carefully at end of term, when she has a more balanced perspective etc.

Also, last year, after she went through a similar phase she suddenly became very enthusiastic and absolutely loved it again. We've explained that it's normal to have ups and downs and anything worth doing has its challenges.

She did piano prior to this and the same thing happened - in the end we let her give up (although she now wants to learn the violin). She's started and stopped other activities too (although I know it's good at this age to explore lots of different things) but she has a tendency in general to give up easily, particularly when she finds something hard.

She is an only child so I don't have a lot of experience with this sort of thing. Would love to know if other parents have the same hassles? If so, how do you handle it? How insistent are you that they continue activities once they have signed up for them etc etc?

And in general, how do you encourage your child to persist at something when they hit a glitch?

Would love to 'hear' advice/tips from other more experienced mothers please.

(Her schooling is quite pressured btw - normal in country where we live.)

superfluouscurves Mon 14-Jan-13 16:18:54

Should also explain that Wednesday afternoons are reserved for extra-curricular activities here.

Ragwort Mon 14-Jan-13 16:20:31

I have an only child too and have always encouraged a lot of extra-curricular activities, some have been successful, some not so grin.

I would always insist that the current, paid for term is completed.

I guess it is quite normal to try things and then find they are not quite right (thinking of all the gyms etc I have joined over the years grin) - but esp. with expensive music lessons - esp. if you are expected to buy the instrument as well, then I think just trying one type of instrument is enough.

We just insist that DS goes along with one of the activities, we are leaders so it would actually be awkward if he didn't come with us, he says he doesn't enjoy going, but always seems happy enough when he is there.

HecatePropolos Mon 14-Jan-13 16:24:45

I don't. The whole point of these things is that they are supposed to be fun. If they're not having fun - what's the point?

They can't just walk out though. My rule is that they have to think carefully for two weeks before making a decision. And anything that has already been paid for must be attended (or repaid to me from their pocket money) and they can't quit at the last minute if it is going to land anyone in the crap (eg walking out on the school play a week before the performance)

and if they decide to stop - then if they change their mind the following week - tough luck. It's over. They're out and they're staying out.

HecatePropolos Mon 14-Jan-13 16:25:20

don't force them to go, I mean. Well, beyond what I've outlined above grin

RaspberryLemonPavlova Mon 14-Jan-13 17:17:20

DD was like that about ballet, always just after I had paid for the 10 week block. However we haven't had it for a long time now.

I would never let them give up an activity we had paid for, without a very good reason. And like Hecate we insist that they see commitments through.

Musical instruments, depending on the reason for giving up I would disagree that trying one is necessarily enough. Sometimes they need to find which instrument is the best 'fit'.

schilke Bosnia-Herzegovina Mon 14-Jan-13 18:59:28

My 9 tomorrow dd1 has just given up ballet. She sounds like your dd in that she'd moan about it for 5 weeks and then love it, then moan etc... Once I gave notice to stop and then she wanted to carry on! However, last term it was quite clear that the moaning days were happening more frequently than the loving it days, so she stopped at the end of term.

Dd1 is quite academic and struggles with physical activities...in the sense that they don't come easily to her, unlike the academic work, so she does have a tendency to want to give up. She gave up on swimming, football and tennis - that was fine as you have to try things to know if you'll like them. She loves her non pressure, just-for-fun gymnastics club where there is no emphasis on being good at it, just having a good time!

So, if you've just embarked on this term and she wants to give up already, I'd stop at the end of term.

superfluouscurves Tue 15-Jan-13 01:35:40

Sorry to be only just back on here now - had to finish urgent work after dinner.

Thank you for all your posts. They have given me pause for thought.

Things have turned around a bit tonight because after a big protest about ballet this evening - she came back all smiles saying she enjoyed it again.

Like all of you, I will definitely stick with insisting that she finishes anything that is paid for and carefully considers in advance any decisions to terminate an activity.

Schilke and Hecate I agree that sometimes there is too much pressure involved with these activities and not enough fun. DD's school day is demanding enough sometimes. Everything (partic. over here where we live) seems to be examined and assessed. Where's the joy?? smile

Having said all that, although dd is not particularly athletic, she is reasonably good at dancing, so we will keep situation under review. Also, we live quite an urban lifestyle and I think it is important she gets regular exercise somehow.

Good point about needing to find the 'right' instrument Raspberry - thanks!

Ragwort I think the fact that dd is an only child does have an adverse effect on all of this - because by necessity - even the most casual of play dates - has to be "scheduled". So it can feel like she is being bundled off alone from one class to another if we're careful. Great that your ds can accompany you to an activity!

As for muscial instruments, we have been dithering about getting a piano for ages now ... (dh plays a bit) ... as I know it would helpful if dd were to start violin lessons in future (and would mean that a teacher could come here instead of trekking somewhere else). As you say though, an expensive mistake if it just sits there unused ...

Thanks again everyone. I'm reassured that I'm more or less on the right track - but will definitely be alert to it all becoming utterly joyless.

DeWe Tue 15-Jan-13 10:30:01

I tend to find that in the winter, they come home and don't want to go out again. I usually chivvy them up and they usually then enjoy it when they get there.

Dd1 (age 12)would keep going with all her activities, and add a few more in for good measure. I don't usually have to work on sending her, except swimming when she was year R and doing it after school. I gave her a target and she gave up when she'd reached it. All her current activities she's been doing at least 3 years, and up to 10 years (ballet). The only one she's chosen to give up has been tap dancing, she'd still like to do this, but the groupings changed and she wasn't naturally in any group, so ended in a group too hard for her. She considers carefully before she starts anything generally. If she said she wanted to give up, I would take it seriously, discuss it with her and give notice if she was sure.

Dd2 (age 9)is much more inclined to give up. She sees something, desperately wants to do it, then gets bored. However she has her core activities which she's done for some time. If she doesn't want to go, I'll usually persuade her and she'll come out very happy and enjoying it.

Ds (age 5) doesn't do a lot. He's just given up ballet because he was bored of being the only boy. He was happy to go to the building, but then would get to the door and say he didn't want to go in, if I persuaded him in he'd sit down and not join in. So I stopped it, even though he sort of still wanted to. He says he'd like to do a group that's all boys. Not round here he won't! He finds doing new things worrying, so he likes generally to stick with what he does.

ZZZenAgain Tue 15-Jan-13 17:19:06

I don't insist on perserverance. If dd starts something and then wants to quit, she is allowed to. When she has wanted to quit something it was either ballet (which truly was not her kind of thing and having watched an open lesson it was then clear to me), choir (she was bored with the type of thing they were singing, now she has private singing lessons and is very happy with that) and hockey (horrible coaches). I thought her reasons made sense to me. However my dd definitely does have staying power wrt other activities which also involve a great deal of self discipline - daily application so I don't think she just has a tendancy to throw in the towel when things are difficult, she can be a real fighter and battle on with things.

If your dd generally does love ballet and is good at it, I would ask her to perservere till the term you have paid for is up. I would also speak to the teacher to hear what is going on. It can sometimes be the result of unpleasant social interaction - a bossy or downright nasty dc in the group for instance can ruin it for the others. I n the same way , a change of teacher or a couple of girls your dd really likes quitting, can all make a big difference. Maybe she likes to dance but doesn't really like ballet the way it is atm. It is so much easier in the beginning. Maybe a different style of dance is what she needs?

superfluouscurves Tue 15-Jan-13 20:53:25

DeWe and ZZZenagain thank you both for your detailed answers which are very helpful and much appreciated.

DeWe definitely find the same problem about not wanting to go out again having coming home (especially in this weather!). My dd sounds a bit like your dd2 - she usually enjoys it when she gets there. I hope she will start to become a bit more resiliant (like your dd1) given time! And a shame there isn't a boys ballet group in your area! So difficult being the odd one out! Respect to you for getting three dc out to different activities though! I find it hard enough with just one!

ZZen The trouble is, unlike your dd, with the best will in the world, I wouldn't describe my dd as having a great deal of staying power - although she has improved over the last year and she has done well to cope with school where she is the only English child. I think the core problem is self confidence/perception because when things look hard, she automatically assumes she can't do them and gives up very easily, even though she has the ability. We have asked her to persevere until Easter and thanks for the tip about speaking to the teacher - I will definitely do that. And I'll keep an open mind about switching to a different style of dance - ballet definitely is a steep learning curve with not much room for spontaneity or fun!

(Funnily enough, dd also loves singing, so that could be a good alternative although do want her to exercise also)

Also, agree with both of you about how important the group dynamic can be in these circs. Thanks again.

Theas18 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:08:05

Tricky. My kids tend to have to be persuaded to stop when something really isn't working because they are " sure it'll get better" . The real one in that case was persuading ds ( who was being relentlessly teased/bullied) at cubs by the same it's who made his school time miserable in year 5 . We engineered a move to something else that clashed - and he was happy to go when he had an alternative - probably an element of bargaining with himself that they " hadn't won" which I can see.

We've done dance of all sorts over the years, and ultimately it was the exams the drove us away - relentlessly from one grade to the next- then extra classes etc ( because presumably they weren't actually ready?) etc.

Swimming we decided a level they needed to get to for safety and set that as the target ( I think they all got their bronze award- lots more than " just being able to swim" I know but basic life saving stuff too- I reckon if you ever end up in the water by accident a bit of that might help).

superfluouscurves Fri 18-Jan-13 22:44:32

Theas18 thx for response and sorry to only get back on here now!

You have obviously inculcated a very healthy, positive outlook in your dc (things will get better) and the ability to persist at things...my dd tends to assume the worst and has sadly probably inherited my Eeyore-ish outlook, leading to her giving up too easily. This is what I really want to work on as (without getting too heavy) a huge part of future "success", stability, happiness etc (however one chooses to define those things) depends ultimately on determination and self control to an extent - with a good dose of luck thrown in I suppose.

Having said all that, we've done the same with swimming - insisted that dd got her safety certificate etc and then let it fall by the wayside for now - except when we go on holiday. And agree with you about relentless exams. As mentioned below, dc don't get to have enough simple fun any more ....

It's all about balance I suppose isn't it?

With musical instruments I think you need to give it at least 12-18 months to get past the initial stage of the learning curve.

For other activities I would expect them to try for at least a couple of terms if I've paid out for kit or uniform.

As well as the skill of the sport or activity itself, there are lessons to be learned about commitment, perseverance and duty to team-mates.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Fri 18-Jan-13 23:01:08

We've wondered about swimming in the future. Bronze award you have to be 14 for don't you? I don't want to enforce it until then if she's not interested!!

superfluouscurves Fri 18-Jan-13 23:20:02

Flip-flopping like mad here!!

>"As well as the skill of the sport or activity itself, there are lessons to be learned about commitment, perseverance and duty to team-mates." Totally agree with that ThreeBeeoneGee and thanks for tip about instrument learning.

Not sure about Bronze CanIhaveaPetGiraffe as live abroad but good to revisit swimming lessons and tune up skills every so often imho.

Molehillmountain Tue 22-Jan-13 22:32:59

My benchmark for whether they like it or not is whether the whining comes just before an activity when they have to go and leave whatever they're doing, which I tend to think isn't about the activity, or afterwards in between sessions, which I take much more notice of. And I agree with the comment about giving a musical instrument a good stretch. It is really hard work getting started and the rewards come a bit later.

musicalfamily Wed 23-Jan-13 13:27:36

We have exactly the same with DS1 and it is so frustrating plus I get worried that if I let him give something up now he will never stick to anything.

We tried ballet/tap/modern - didn't like it as he was the only boy and I let him give it up, same with musical theatre; then it was football and karate; now we found gymnastics and actually the coach told us he has a real talent for it - he enjoys it but still says he wants to give it up when it's time to go.

Music - he does the piano and the violin and wants to give both up - he was the one who wanted to start them in the first place!!!

I think he's the sort of person who just loves to sit down with a good book, he is a total bookworm/academic person in the real sense of the word. But that's why I try so hard with other things as I don't think it's healthy to just be sat at a desk all day. My other children are completely different!!!! Wish I knew the answer! He says he can't wait until he's 18 so he can give everything up!!!

morethanpotatoprints Wed 23-Jan-13 18:43:59

I would never force any of mine to carry on with anything they decided wasn't for them.
However, If I had paid for lessons they would have to see it out especially if there were terms included.
I don't even push if they moan about doing something. If the initial enthusism has waned it usually means it isn't for them.
My ds tried many activities until they found the right one. DD however, has kept going with all her musical instruments but has cut back a little on dancing.

superfluouscurves Wed 23-Jan-13 20:09:49

Thanks for the responses everyone - really appreciated.

That's a good tip Molehill about checking their response to the activity in between sessions - thanks - will do that. (I think it's especially tempting to give up with the short days/dark nights/cold weather atm - need a more balanced/objective response when she is fed and well rested.)

It's interesting that you say that your ds is a real bookworm MusicalFamily - because dd is too. Also v. interesting is what you say about your ds being different to the rest of his siblings - this is what I find so difficult to judge with an only - also feel the same way you do about dc needing exercise. At least your ds will be able to look back and say that he was allowed to try lots of different things -even if he didn't choose to continue them all - and that's important I think. Sympathies to you anyway!
I have just remembered staying with my sister a few years back when she almost physically dragged my nephew to choir practice while he screamed at the top of his voice. He now says (he is 18 yrs) that, in retrospect, he was really pleased that she did!!) They don't make it easy though do they?

Thanks Morethanpotatoprints. I honestly don't know whether I am being too strict or too lax atm. We'll have to reassess things at Easter - perhaps a change of activity is required.

Huge respect to all of you parents on here who have managed to get your dc to persist with learning a musical instrument ....

Thanks again!

scubastevie Wed 23-Jan-13 20:41:43

I think she is very lucky that you can afford extra curricular activities and I think if I knew my dc generally enjoyed an activity I would not tolerate them moaning about it - genuine talk of wanting to give it up between sessions is different.

My parents let me give up ballet at a young age I wish they hadn't. Not least for exercise purposes. Great when you're not sporty.

superfluouscurves Thu 24-Jan-13 22:08:04

I do try and get that point across to her scubastevie She knows she is v. lucky. Doesn't seem to make that much difference though sadly [sigh]

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