15 May 2012

Offer your kid a 'personal day' off after-school activities to prevent foot-dragging

Amazon: 365 Smart Afterschool Activities, 2E: TV-Free Fun Anytime for Kids Ages 7-12Natalie's thoughtful and creative response to her daughter's resistance to after-school activities short-circuits problems before they even occur.

A little girl at my daughter's dance class refused to go into the studio. Her dad was unsure how to handle the situation.

It reminded me of our struggles when my daughter was between 4 and 6. Too frequently I would sign her up for an activity she enjoyed, but then she would resist going. I couldn't figure out why, but after questions it became apparent that she just didn't want to go. If I forced her to participate, she would become upset and cry, but it made no sense to let her skip for no reason. It's so frustrating to spend money on these activities only to have such resistance when it was time to go!

My solution was to give her one "personal day" per session. She could skip one class per session, no questions asked, but then she had to attend the rest of the classes. It worked wonderfully!  She didn't even use her personal days most of the time.

I think just giving her some control over the situation made all the difference.

Who doesn't like having a little control? Extracurricular activities can be wonderful, but some days we all just need a break. I so admire Natalie's willingness to respect her daughters' feelings while still holding the line about followthrough.

Related: Note monthly class payments in your calendar

More: Earlier conversations on behavior

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Providing children with opportunities for learning is a wonderful way to get them motivated, and after-school activities are a great way for parents to be involved in their learning and success.

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