How hard should you push your child?

I was a ‘soccer mom’ for about two weeks. I enrolled my 4-year old and 2-year old in a Toronto soccer club. They were both so excited to play (like their big auntie and uncle), but it turned out to be very short lived.

my daughter in her soccer uniformMy son’s toddler program was unfortunately cancelled and when my daughter found that out, she was crushed and didn’t want to play. We still tried—I would race out of work, pick the kids up from summer camp and head straight to the field with snacks and treats in tow. My daughter would proudly put on her soccer uniform (all the teams were named after the FIFA World Cup countries.  Her team was Spain and from the start, our hopes were high!), but that’s where the fun stopped.  Dressed in her replica uniform, she refused to play and would sit on the sidelines and watch the rest of her team run from one side of the field to the other.  We continued to go to as many games as we could, sometimes staying for the whole game, other times heading home early…but my daughter still refused to play.

It made me think how much parents should encourage kids to pursue various activities. This was my first experience of enrolling my kids into something that they didn’t want to continue. Everyone seems to say that it’s not good to push kids too much, but how do you know what the right balance is? I used to take piano lessons, but stopped in high school (though I regret it and hope to start playing again, when I enrol my kids).  I too wasn’t serious about playing soccer when I was younger—my friends and I would walk around the field eating snacks and catching up on schoolyard gossip.  I wish I did play though. I wish my parents—though they are amazing and let me do things I can’t even imagine letting my kids do, like traveling alone throughout India for 6 months—pushed me just a little more to continue some of the things I started.

I know that my kids are still very young and there’s lots of time for them to try and discover new things. I just hope that I can find the right balance of encouragement and independence. And I haven’t given up on soccer yet! This season is over, but next season we’ll be back at it, hopefully playing on the field this time!

Any advice?

About Agatha Stawicki

Agatha Stawicki is the publisher at Our Kids Media. Follow her at @AgathaStawicki on Twitter.

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