As a parent, you know how difficult it can be to get kids to try a new activity.
Pulling them away from a screen these days can be like pulling teeth. The restrictions imposed by COVID have made starting a new activity even more difficult, giving kids yet another excuse to say no. Kids are so used to spending time at home, it’s getting harder to convince them to try something new.
Even the suggestion of an activity outside of their comfort zone can lead to whining, crying and pleading. Good parental intentions can lead to arguing and obstinance. There’s also a potential risk to pushing too hard or pushing the wrong activity. Failure or a bad experience can make the next suggestion an even harder sell.
Getting kids involved in new activities often requires advanced tactics and strategies.
As anyone with kids at home will tell you, having go-to activities and plans for the future in place really are important. Keeping up with an energetic youngster can be exhausting. Providing a curious and headstrong young adult with a fulfilling, healthy and enriching activity that will keep them out of trouble isn’t easy. It is necessary.
Activities for kids should be organized. They should be monitored, safe and healthy, and do more than occupy time. They should enrich as well as provide fun. With the right activity, it becomes something you and the child look forward to.
As a busy parent, you need an edge in evaluating kids’ activities. What steps can you take to make sure the activity you suggest will be a success?
Not to worry, we have five questions you can use as you evaluate activities for kids. Let’s get started…
There is a time and place for learning and enrichment, but there’s also a time and place for fun. Fun and enrichment aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Evaluate an activity by making a list of what makes it fun. Where do the excitement and joy come into play, and does it align with the child’s personality and expectations? When you’re done, you should have a good idea if it’s something that will keep your daughter or son happy.
Before starting an activity, it’s important to identify potential risks. As a parent, you need to be aware of safety factors. Before suggesting or starting a new activity, do a review of the risk factors. Ask the coach or activity leader what steps they have taken to prevent injury or protect the participants. What injuries are common, and what protective gear is available or required? Once you have a good idea of the risks, review them to see if you are still comfortable with the activity.
With any new activity, there will be requirements. It could be a time commitment, or a financial investment, or even an expectation for the child. Some commitments are bigger than others, and some may not be apparent at first, especially with the child. Understanding the requirements and being upfront before you begin can prevent any misunderstandings or hurt feelings later. It can also set expectations early to help avoid resentment later.
While this may not be one of the first items you consider, it is very important. A child needs to be engaged with an activity. They need to see their place, understand their role, and be excited to participate. Some activities may seem fun at first, but if they aren’t engaging, if only the top participants will have a role to play, then the initial interest may quickly become bitterness. Take a hard look at the activity and see if there will be enough active participation for everyone.
As a parent, you want to play a role in your children’s lives. Take a look at the niche you can play in the activity and see if you are okay with that. Some activities need coaches or assistant coaches. Others need supporters or fans. This may not be your top priority at first, but anything your son or daughter is involved in will quickly become your activity as well. Make sure you are comfortable with the role you will play.
For many parents, the first step into a new kids’ activity, whether it is a sport, a club, or even a hobby, is the most difficult. Sometimes, getting off the couch and starting is the most difficult step.
The questions we’ve assembled are designed to take some of the pain and risk out of evaluating and starting a new activity. Take the time to research and learn before you get started.
As always, let the team at the USASF know if you have any questions, and make sure to stop by our club finder to discover activities in your area!