Whether it’s soccer, baseball or other extracurriculars, parents often prioritize ‘fun.’ But fun is only one of many aspects that a child learns while participating in an activity or sport. There's also commitment, patience, fortitude, willingness to learn and dealing with frustration. All of these facets turn any extracurricular activity into a learning experience.
Teach Difficult Life Lessons
Extracurricular activities aren’t always going to be fun. I regularly talk on-air with kids struggling to understand this concept. They were enjoying themselves and then something changed. There may be a valid reason your child stopped having fun. But more often than not, kids are dealing with an obstacle they don’t know how to overcome. It’s up to parents to find out why and use this as a learning opportunity.
There is merit in seeing something through, however. There's value in improvement. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s absolutely doable. Kids don't have to hide and run away from ‘uncomfortable.’ They can learn to handle it, and it falls on the parents to guide them.
Avoid “Stupid Indulgence”
In my book, Stupid Things Parents Do To Mess Up Their Kids (also known as Parenthood by Proxy), I discuss “Stupid Indulgence,” a mistake I often see parents committing. “Giving your child whatever they want pushes them to become morally and philosophically aimless,” I write. “When children are indulged, never challenged, never taught to deal with real life and adversity, they become weak.”
One of the most important lessons your child can learn is commitment to a greater good beyond the individual. They're going to need that in friendships, marriages and other interpersonal relationships.
If your child tells you they’re not having fun at basketball practice or computer classes, I challenge you to respond by saying, “Do you think it's fun having to deal with getting you to and from school? That's not fun for parents, but we have obligations out of commitment and love.”
This is what your kids must learn.