We’ve all been there. Your independent toddler’s exerting her independence and refusing to participate in the activity you spent hours researching and coordinating schedules to be able to attend.
But experts say that’s all part of the process.
“Every child has something he loves to do and is talented in, so keep digging!” said Lamice Joujou, founder of Dent de Lait – Eco Children’s Center in Beirut. “Don’t give up. If it’s not karate, chess, or Zumba because these are trending, it might be horseback riding or coding.”
“Discipline is taught by sticking to an activity a child has shown interest [in] but might be lazy to work or rehearse for,” Joujou said. It doesn’t come from dragging them “to some ballet class they don’t feel they belong to.”
Parents should know that the first time a child tries an activity isn’t the most important indicator because they usually won’t be at ease due to a change in environment, according to Christelle Fakhoury, co-founder of C2C, the Lebanon-based kids’ event organizer. Let them try at least two or three times to discover what it’s all about.
“You should always try to motivate them and let them experiment with what’s out there in the world,” she added, whether that’s sports, acting, art, anything that develops their mental and physical capacities.
Things to consider when choosing an interest are the type of skills the child will acquire and how those will help later in life. Some hobbies have an indirect benefit, Joujou said, like building flexibility, boosting self-confidence, encouraging teamwork, reinforcing fine motor skills, and improving focus. “So, listen to your child’s needs, and choose accordingly,” she added.
Ways to keep children motivated include creating a video that shows their progress or a before and after picture. Attend the class, wait for them outside, or join if possible. And, Joujou said, don’t be afraid to reward discipline.
Lebanon offers a multitude of resources to help kids develop their interests from camps to indoor and outdoor playgrounds and birthday parties. Referred to as “edu-tainment” by Fakhoury, the idea is children will learn educational activities through entertainment.
But the best way to help kids is to “teach by example,” Joujou said, “by listening to different kinds of music with your child, taking them to a basketball game then playing it together, drawing, and painting. Try a wide array of activities and listen to all the cues your child is sending you to be able to channel his talent and support” them.
Nadine is a former financial journalist turned stay-at-home mom, navigating the sleep-deprived journey of motherhood.