Monday, November 19, 2007

When is Enough, Enough?

Someone tell me. How far do you push or encourage your children to overcome their fears before you say, "enough is enough?" Emma, who previously could not wait the week in between dance classes, has already declared several times today that she does NOT want to go to dance class this afternoon and follows it up with a fear-laden whimper.

She used to love it, used to get so much out of it. Then we traveled. And grandma died. And since we've been back, getting her to go back to the school she once loved two days a week has been a chore, forget dance class. We've been once since returning home, and she cried so hard in the first five minutes that she vomited, and I had to bring her home.

Now I am definitely not one of those parents who believes that your child has to be in a million and one scheduled activities to be well-rounded or whole. No way. I'm a firm believer in the stimulating qualities of unstructured time, particularly at Emma's tender age. And so, in that regard, taking her out does not bother me. I know that this one silly little class won't matter in the grand scheme of things. However, this is a class that she asked to sign up for unprompted by my husband or I, and she seemed to desperately want to try it. So, far be it from me to deny my child developing an interest in something, we signed her up.

And now, with the whiny, crying, fear of separation, declarations of not wanting to go, I'm bewildered as to how to proceed. Do I take her out and potentially reinforce the clingy, regressive behavior as well as teach her that it's ok to quit things? Or do I continue to try taking her, encouraging her to get back into her interests, and teaching her that when you start something, you see it through to the end? And....was it really a true interest in the first place, or did she just want to wear the cute stuff for a couple of weeks? And at only 3 years old, is this really something that I need to be worrying about so much with her?

C'mon moms. Chime in.


Amanda said...

I'm inclined to end the classes. Did something happen? Bullying? Embarrassment? Or, maybe you can do something to make her feel as if you are in it together. Maybe a special bracelet set you could make with ribbons.

"Ok, sweetie, time for dance, can we put on our secret partner bracelets?"

Just a thought.

Karen said...

I wouldn't give up the classes. Maybe I'm wrong. I think skipping a week is okay, but at this age, teaching them they don't have to go just because they don't want to is, well, kind of quitting. She asked to go. You signed her up. Attendance is a consequence. No sweet talk about it, just no-nonsense, "It's time to go to dance class." And maybe a reward afterward-- extra story when you get home, or something like that.

I wouldn't sign her up again or anything, but in my admittedly limited experience, the tough-it-out approach has worked for us. It's not like you drop her off at dance and disappear. Just remind her you're there, you're watching, and you'll be there when she's done-- she doesn't want to go because she doesn't want to be without YOU. And you can't live like that. . .

Karen in San Diego