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Kids Activities Mississauga

Today’s parents are faced with a wide assortment of choices when it comes to after school and extra curricular activities for their children.  There’s  music lessons, martial arts, private tutoring, scouts, sports and an endless list of after school programs to keep you child, happy, engaged and growing.

But how do you choose?

You Child Asks for Lessons

Back in the day when I was growing up, families were much larger.  I’m one of five kids, so my parents didn’t have the luxury of being able to give us everything we wanted.  They had to make tough choices, and as a child, I had to prove that I wanted what I asked for.  I had grown up with a piano in the home, and I had been drawn to it even as a very little child.  I’d sit the piano and just try to make sounds, not really understanding or knowing what to do, but compelled to try.  When I started asking for lessons, I was lucky, my father had taken piano lessons as a child, and so he was sympathetic to my interest in music.  Phew!  If your child has an interest in a prticular activity, whether it’s music, hockey or cooking, then you’ve got a good starting point.

Peer Pressure

Sometimes kids are influenced by what their friends are doing, and that can motivate them to try something new.  I become a Girl Guide because my best friend, Diane, was in the local unit, and so were all the other ‘popular’ girls in my school.  So I joined, and luckily, I loved it!  In return, I made Diane sign up for band in Grade 7 and we both played clarinet.  Not such a good plan.  She hated it, and I ended up having to play louder to cover up the fact that she wasn’t playing at all!

Kids do like to imitate their peers and like to fit in, so listen to who your child talks about and envies and listen for clues.  You child might be feeling a little peer pressure and that can be a good trigger to get things going.  It might just  take a little trial and error to figure out exactly it is that they admire about the activity.  Don’t be too disappointed  if in the end your child doesn’t love what his/her best friend or sibling does.  Sometimes kids might show interest, but really just want to observe not participate.  Kids do learn from their peers, but ultimately you want your child have their own unique set of skills and interests, and to be able to express their own individuality.

Relax – You Know Your Child Best

Parents also feel a lot of pressure from other parents.  You know what I’m talking about.  You’re on the soccer field, and there’s that  mom (or dad) beside you who’s super-organized and committed to her kids future.  She rattles off her schedule of dance classes, Kumon, swimming, play dates, etc, and your head spins.  Now you feel lousy. Are you doing enough for your child?  Are you a bad parent?  Is your child missing out?

Relax.  In the end, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your child, and it’s your vision of who you want your child to become as an adult that should drive your choices.  There’s a saying in life:  You can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want.  In other words, your child is not going to grow up to become a superhuman – a heart surgeon in the daytime, and then dashing out in the evening to  perform on stage as a professional ballerina.  Well, not likely anyway.  My experience is that children often have better learning experiences when they excel at one of two activities, and are not spread too thin.  So manage your child’s time, but leave room for them to also have time to  play, socialize, and enjoy their childhood.

Support Your Child

It takes, discipline, time and patience to become good at anything.  So focus on a few activities that you really believe in, and support your child wholeheartedly.

It’s not always going to be fun or easy, but once you’ve made a commitement to an activity try to encourage your child to do the same.  Insist that they stick it out for one year, or offer a reward for completing a task.  The younger the child, the easier it is to offer incentives.

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