7 Year Old Won't Try Any Activities at All

Updated on October 12, 2010
E.T. asks from Redondo Beach, CA
18 answers

My 7 son is adverse to trying any kind of activity. I didn't want to force him into too many activities too young and now he won't try any. He is not over scheduled and never has been. I want him to get excited about anything and he sayes the only thing that makes him happy is being with me at home. He fights any suggestion to try a sport or music art anything. I suggest joining and then drop it as I don't want to deal with the constant battle of taking him to some practice and all the whining etc. The mear discussion sends him into a tantrum of not wanting to do whatever. Any suggestions on how to help cultivate a passion? His continual negativity is draining. PLEASE HELP!

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answers from Las Vegas on

Any problems with his self esteem? Sometimes they lack the confidence and then they don't want to participate. Does he need to practice his sport more at home so he will have the confidence to do it?

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answers from Houston on

What does he do at home? Does he read, play video games, watch movies, play on a swingset,,, maybe reducing what he does there would help him see what else he can do out in the world. Try taking him to a library, or to observe a tae kwon do class, a local kids museum. Let him know he doesn't have to participate, but he needs to at least observe and take in interest. Maybe get him a little science kit, or plane model building kit... try and find out what his interests are and then base a little hobby around that. See if he perks up when visiting somewhere. Just try and expose him to as much as possible.

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answers from New York on

oh my i was so there. still am. I was spending too much money in Target while waiting for my daughter to finish dance class, so instead of taking my son to push buttons in the toy aisle at Target, i took him to the martial arts place down the block from daughter's dance studio. It was excruciatingly slow going, still is. the first time we went, we sat in the car and looked through the window. he didn't want to get out. the second time we got out of the car and looked through the window. sensei came out to say hello but quickly went back inside when son hid behind me. 3rd time we went in to watch. after that son tried a few sessions (1/2 hour classes). he seemed to enjoy it and we enrolled him. however, at some point he started to get spooked again, so i had to go on the mat with him, warm up, and then i could sit against the wall but had to stay on the mat. he's still sticking with it; has moved up to a more advanced class. and still gets spooked every once in a while when a new assistant teacher works with him. i am always there though, which i really don't have a problem with, although i don't really need to go on the mat with him. gentle and persistent coaxing works best for my little guy. just a thought.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Well, maybe try surprising him with something. Don't suggest it beforehand so you don't get shot down, but plan a day where you both go and do something seemingly spontaneous. There are places where you can go and make pottery and/or paint your own designs on plates, etc. There are libraries and museums, take him roller skating. He might be more up for doing things if you start out by just "exploring' together as opposed to the thought of signing up for extended sports teams or music lessons.
Surely you'll find something that interests him and he wants to do more than once. He likes doing things with you but they don't have to be done at home.
Like I said, don't suggest so you can be shot down, just go and tell him when you get there what you are going to do. It's only for an hour or so...he'll live.
Bad weather is coming. It's good to find things to do out of the house so you're not just stuck inside all the time. You might as well start out slowly now. I think your son, in time, will look forward to the outings and you're sure to find something that sparks his interests.

Best wishes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Tantrums at age 7? Boy has he got your number! Whining is just a way to manipulate you. I agree with Susan K below. You didn't mention a father in the picture. Does he have any positive male role models to do things with like an uncle, grandpa, etc? Does he have any siblings? My kids often went to outside activities together. Does he go to the library and read? Do you go to any organized religious activities as a family? Do you just take walks in the park? Do you have pets like a dog or cat? Animals often have a very positive affect on children, especially like in walking, teaching tricks, or getting into events like frisby or agility.

PS If any of my kids threw a tantrum at age 7 I would have thrown a pitcher of water on their heads! I can understand it at age 2 or 3 but age 7 is way to old for that kind of behavior. He is using his behavior to CONTROL YOU! For his sake and yours, you must be the parent and NEVER EVER give in to tantrums or whining. By giving in, you are rewarding him. You must be the parent. Also, I think you might want to have your son evaluated first by your pediatrician for any physical problems and then evaluated by a child psychologist. You might gain some insight into what is going on in his head.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Maybe he just hasn't found the right activity yet. Look at what he does enjoy and springboard from there. For now, though, since it seems to upset him, maybe letting it be for a while is the best course of action.

And if he isn't interested, isn't that fine too? Maybe he isn't a "joiner."
This notion of "activities" is a fairly recent one, and frankly I think it is out of hand, with some of these over-scheduled kids. They are stressed out and their parents won't acknowledge it.

My daughter has one class that she takes each week, but that is because it was something that she expressed an interest in and loves attending. If interest ever wanes, I have no problem with her wanting to stop going.

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answers from Portland on

Is he in school and does he have friends? Perhaps you could help him make friends with another boy who is quiet and introverted and then encourage both of them to participate in an activity. It doesn't have to be something that requires that they leave home.

As Momma L. suggested expose him to various activities. Focus on music, books, museum with it's art, animals, history, etc. Find out what interests him and then find ways of him participating with you.

I'm guessing being around strangers intimidates him. He feels insecure and frightened. Reassure him by staying with him and showing him how to do things and that you're not frightened. Talk some about his feelings but don't try to change them by talking about them. Gradually change his fear to confidence by providing activities that build confidence.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Is there something that you and he could do together? Maybe an art class or a karate class or something that is geared towards spending time together? There won't be too many more years that he wants to be with you, so enjoy it while it lasts and try to do something together - get a tandem bike, start jogging together and run in some 10k's or something. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or humane society. That way he can do something extracurricular, be with you and maybe learn something new as well!



answers from Visalia on

If he wants to spend time with you, then spend time with him. Find something that the two of you can do together. Ride bikes, go for a nature walk, take an art class, but do it together. You could even do some activities at home, like cooking or woodworking, or even learning the guitar or piano. It sounds like he misses you during the day and wants to spend some time with you.



answers from Seattle on

My first thought is to ask if he's in school? If he's already gone 8-10 hours a day for school I can very much understand him wanting to spend the remaining 2-4 hours a day with you. Morning Madness doesn't really count as family time as it's go-go-go to get out the door, and then coming home from school exhausted (especially if he's an introvert*), he may just want to spend those couple left over hours a day with those he loves.

((* Introverts aren't necessarily shy. The technical definition between someone who is intro or extroverted is where they get their 'energy' from. I LOVE people, but need a lot of alone time to 'recharge'. My son, on the other hand also loves people, but the more time he spends around others the more energetic/relaxed he feels. I'm a classic introvert, and he's a classic extrovert... and neither of us are shy.)

Secondly, at least half of my son's outside activities I do WITH him. (He's 8). Snow sports in the winter, and water sports in the summer. Those are also good ways to ease a child INTO doing activities (hence the number of mom & me toddler classes).



answers from Los Angeles on

you have to make him do something, the reason he cries and complains is because he knows if he doesn't it enough you get tried of it and pull him out of the activity. its great that he wants to be with you but he can't not all of the time! at some point he has to become the little boy that he is and get involved in something. it doesn't have to be sports it can be Boy Scouts or something like that, but if you don't push him to do something he will always be up under you and will always be a mommas boy you don't want that.


answers from Norfolk on

My son was always very active and running around up through pre school and kindergarten. But when he started 1st grade, it seemed like the more he had to sit and read/write, the harder it was to keep his weight down at a reasonable level. Every year, playground time and recess gets shorter and shorter. So I told him he has to do something to keep him moving and I signed him up for after school taekwondo 4 days a week.
It's fun! It's like playing, but especially after sitting at a desk all day at school it was great to be running around and kicking targets. We started him in 2nd grade. Took 3rd grade off because we'd moved and it took me awhile to find a new taekwondo school, and he's been going to after school taekwondo and summer day camp ever since. He has a lot of fun, he's a black belt now, and he gets to lead the class in warm-ups every so often and he has a lot of good friends. Now that he's in middle school, he also plays the clarinet and he's enjoying it a lot.
Not everything they try is going to become a passion, and sometimes an interest has run it's course and it's time to move on to something else.
Besides sports, there's Cub/Boy Scouts.
Since he wants to do things with you, how about you try to sign up for an activity (some art class/craft) where you both work together for awhile.
Tell him you want to take the class for yourself and he's going to come, too. Don't spend a lot of time discussing it. Just tell him this is something you and he are going to do - don't give him any options about opting out. If he's starts to worry about how it will go, just tell him you don't know - it's an adventure and the fun is in finding out how it will all work out. Just one class at a time is fine. There are a few parents who join taekwondo classes with their kids and earn their belts just like the kids do.



answers from Reno on

My son is a total perfectionist, and doesn't like trying new or competetive things because he's afraid that he won't measure up to the other kids involved. When he's afraid that the other kids have been doing it longer and have more experience, it stresses him out even worse. He's not usually content just to be part of the team, he has to be the BEST at whatever. (I'm really laid back and non competetive, so sometimes it's hard for me to "get" it.) I have to tell him constantly that HIS best is all that's required.

You might need to simply sign him up for something instaed of asking if he'd like to do it. If he throws a fit, say, "You haven't even tried it. You can't tell me you don't like it if you've never done it." If you give him a time frame - "Let's do this for 6 months" - he'll probably just put in the time and not get involved, because he'll just be counting time until he's done. It will always be a temporary situation in his head. Instead of giving a time frame, require an attitude - "You need to try your hardest, and be respectful of me and (insert name or position of the coach, teacher etc)."

I would suggest signing your son up for Cub Scouts. There's only 2 or 3 real competitions (Pinewood Derby etc) a year, and he'll get to dabble in a lot of stuff so HE can figure out what he enjoys. Plus, you can go to most or all of his meetings as a parent helper or even a leader, so he'll have the security of not being alone.

My second choice would be an after school program or rec dept. program that runs on school vacations. In those sorts of programs, they usually try a little of everything.

Try not to feel that he has to fit a certain mold - if he thinks you're anxious, he'll be even more anxious or stubborn. Eventually, he'll find something that he loves, whether it's chess or sports or theater or drawing.

(BTW, my son's now 15. He spent quite a while in karate before taking up fencing, rock climbing and rifle shooting, which he still does. He's closing in on his Eagle Scout award, has appeared in 2 plays and taken an improv class despite having stage fright. He loves snorkeling and is taking diving lessons. He's a voracious reader. On top of all that, he's a great kid. :D)



answers from Pittsburgh on

Are you talking about classes & teams or just any "different" activity like a craft kit, art project, etc.?
If he's not interested in joining sports teams, I wouldn't force it.
As far as other stuff--maybe try to build off of other things that he DOES like--my son wouldn't pick up a crayon until I said maybe we could draw some cars.
I agree that it's not worth the resistance to get him to practice or class if he's just not into it.
Maybe he's the kind of kid that just likes to do his own thing. And that's OK, too.


answers from Santa Fe on

My 6.5 yr old son is very similar. He will sometimes agree to an activity if I am there with him. He likes ice skating bc we do it together. He agreed to swimming lessons bc I came along and sat there each time although he does not want to do it again. He does not like any team sports and does not want to do music or art classes. He does like cub scouts bc his dad or i go every time and participate with him. He is a very outgoing kid though and seems to be very confident. I am not sure why he would prefer to be with us or stay home except that he just loves having "free time" and doing whatever he wants! Let me know if anything works for you! -C.



answers from Detroit on

My son will be 7 in December and is the same way. I tell him that he has to do one activity outside of school and that's it. Otherwise, he'd just sit around the house. So I offer him a variety of options and he usually turns them all down. Eventually, I tell him that he can pick one or I will choose for him. That usually gets him to make a choice. I really prefer not to choose for him, because I want it to be something that he has an interest in.

Last year, he chose to take an art class at a local art studio and he really enjoyed it. This year, he didn't make a choice, so we signed him up for Cub Scouts. He wasn't happy at first, but we've already done a local outing that was a lot of fun and his first den meeting is coming up. I think when he sees that 6 or 7 of his friends are in his den, he will be much happier.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi E.,

My daughter is only enrolled in Scouts, but is usually willing to try some of the after school enrichment program activities. Color Me Mine will be coming to her school, and since I have taken her there to paint some pieces, she is familiar with the program and wants to go.

Are there any after school enrichment programs your little guy might try out? It might be more encouraging for him if a friend from class is going too. You might also try out an activity that you can do with him initially, like ice skating. Once he feels comfortable in his new surrroundings, he might be more willing go for a second session class by himself.

If not, I wouldn't push it too hard. For me, it was tough when I saw all the other kids trying out things and classes. I felt like I was not giving my daughter enough opportunities to find her niche. Now, however, I see some kids totally overscheduled, tired, and cranky from having too many things to do during the week, so don't sweat it too much.

Good luck with your son, and I hope you find peace with whichever way you choose to handle this.

Take care,



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi E.,

Good for you for not over scheduling your son! When I was growing up, kids just played after school -- we didn't have a lot of preprogrammed activities, except for maybe music or art lessons. Sports were mostly sand lot pick-me-up games. Bikes were for transportation or imagination (I loved my trusty Schwinn banana seat "steed!").

If you really want your son to try out different activities, I second the idea of picking an activity that you will do together. Music and art lessons come to mind, as does martial arts (you can both start as white belts). My favorite activity with my kids was Scouting, although at 7 your little guy would be a Wolf, and dens are usually not parent/child by that age. (If he's still in first grade, however, he could join Tiger Cubs, which IS a parent/child activity.) On the other hand, I stayed involved in my kids' scouting activities by volunteering to be the den mother/scout leader. I cannot say enough good things about the scouting program. It offers so much in terms of getting kids to explore the world around them in so many ways, and really teaches them to build integrity and leadership skills. As difficult as my son could be in his teen years, he became a totally different, respectful, and motivated person when he put on his scout uniform. He's now both Eagle and Order of the Arrow, and proud that he's learned so many skills that he's prepared for any emergency.

Sports are a bit hard to do parent/child, but perhaps your son would be willing to try out different sports if you're there on the side lines, cheering him on, and take the opportunity to practice with him at home. A great sport for parent and child to do, believe it or not, is fencing -- mainly because it is not a team sport (until the collegiate level, for the most part). You and your son would be starting at the same level, and you could serve as sparing partners, both at the lessons and at home. It does require a bit of a monetary outlay, though, for the equipment, but kids are often drawn into the swashbuckling and fantasy aspects of the sport, then grow from there.

Frankly, I don't see a reason to push your son into independent activities at this age. Be glad of the time he wants to spend with you, because that is sure to change in just a few short years! But, if you really do want him to at least try a few things out, you're going to have to not give into the whining. Right now, he's learned that he can get his way if he puts up enough of a fuss, and that can grow to monstrous proportions later on. You do NOT want to go down that path, trust me! I know it's hard, but you have to keep reminding yourself that YOU'RE the parent, and you get to make the rules. Then again, if all else fails, there's always bribery -- um, I mean, positive reinforcement. You might try developing a system of rewards for good behavior, in this case, trying out different activities without whining and with really putting a solid effort into it.

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