H.D. asks from Dodgeville, WI on July 08, 2008
I Need Help Encouraging My Son
My four year old is very cautious about new situations - much like his mom :) My concern is that he will miss out on a lot of fun things because of this. In addition I am concerned that I am pushing him too much, which is NOT what I intended. I would hate for him to miss out on something because he was too afraid to try it.
Anyway, I signed him up for t-ball and tumbling this summer with the intent that if he tried it and didn't like it he wouldn't have to do it. He refused at first to try t-ball, but after we got there he played and LOVED it. The next week he wouldn't play because a friend of his told him he couldn't (nice, huh?), which we didn't know about until the following week. In the end t-ball has been a great experience for him and he loves it.
On to my next issue - tumbling. He is scheduled to go M-F this week. Yesterday he would not do it, so we just sat on the floor and watched the other kids. Then last night and this morning he was excited about going back and said he was going to do it. Then we get there and it's the same thing - he won't. He did go in the circle with the other kids at first, but then refused to stand up when the teacher asked the group. Honestly, he looked really scared.
So, we sat out again, but I was really frustrated. He wouldn't tell me what changed his mind about participating, so I'm at a loss as to how to help.
My question is - should we go back tomorrow? I told him this morning that I wouldn't bring him back, but now am questioning whether that is the right thing to do or if I was just reacting out of frustration (probably).
I don't want to push him too hard, but I really would like him to at least try something new before he decides not to do it. On the other hand, I know exactly how he feels because I am the same way. The difference is as an adult I wish someone HAD pushed me a bit more.
Any suggestions on helping to build his confidence in himself and in new situations?
D.S. answers from Minneapolis on July 09, 2008
It sounds like he doesn't want to do anything he might not succeed at. Pay attention to how he responds when he "fails" at something. If that is the issue, try to build failure into his day. You try something you haven't done before and then model how to handle failure if it happens. Failure is an important part of growing up and some of us just don't like that experience, but consider it the "vegetable for the emotions." We all need it, few of us enjoy it, but without it our growth is stunted.
L.S. answers from Madison on July 08, 2008
I agree, he has to know that he can't just quit something if he doesn't like it. If he doesn't want to re-sign after this season is over, that could be an option. But, you've already committed to this season. Can he practice at home so he's not as intimidated in front of a group? Dos he have a friend who might be able to attend with him. Or, the hardest of all...are the teachers OK with you leaving him there? A boy in my daughter's swimming class hated coming, but the teachers asked the parents to leave. Shortly after they left, he came out of his shell and enjoyed the class. I haven't yet had this issue with my kids, but I know it must be frustrating. Hang in there!
K.B. answers from Milwaukee on July 08, 2008
i don't want to sound like i'm jumping down on you but with you not forcing him some to follow thru you are showing him it's ok to quit in the middle of things. we signed our son up for soccer and at the end of the season he said he really didn't care for it. he is in t-ball right now and likes it better and have him signed up for flag football in the fall. i'm not saying to make him do it but maybe try going out and help him bat at t-ball and sit and help him do some tumbling. if he sees you helping him he may over come his fears and want to try some new things for himself. and keep incouraging him--even if you have to be the loud mom on the side lines!!
M.P. answers from Minneapolis on July 09, 2008
I think keeping gentle pressure on your son is a good idea and instilling in him the reassurance that you wouldn't sign him up for something that was bad or dangerous. My son wouldn't have done tumbling at 4 or now. He's just not that kind of kid. If you think tumbling is something that fits with his personality (like he loves physical stuff and rolling around, etc. at home) then ask him to keep with it regardless of his feelings. If you think about it and realize that it was just a mistake for both of you, then forget it and move on to something else. Staying active is important, learning not to quit is important, but people underestimate the value of being able to say "I made a mistake" and move on. Only you can decide. Good luck and have fun with your son! They grow up too fast! Blessings to you.