Or can they provide stress relief?
When choosing after school activities for your child, aiming for quality rather than quantity is important. It is easy to feel that the more activities your child does the more she is learning and benefiting. However, you can also end up with a situation where she does not have enough time to follow her own imagination, play or simply be. This is a sure path to a stressed child. With after school activities it is usually true that less is more.
Your child’s likes and interests can be your guide in finding activities that she will enjoy. Bear in mind the following points:
• Make sure that your child really wants to do an activity.
• Discuss it with her and offer her a number of options. You may want her to learn to play a musical instrument. She may find horse riding or football more rewarding, especially if she is an active child who finds sitting down at school all day difficult.
• Once you and she have decided on an activity, do some research on the what is available in your area.
• Go and watch a lesson taking place with your child. This will help her decide if it really is what she wants to do. It will also help you assess the teacher and the class to see if they meet with your expectations.
• Find out the costs, including any necessary equipment. Some activities that have cheap class costs can turn out to be expensive because of other costs, such as clothing, equipment, travel, etc.
• Remember that this is a leisure activity and is meant to be fun. If, at any point, it is clear that your child is not really enjoying it, perhaps it is time to stop. You could discuss finding another activity or simply take a break for a while.
Even if your child tries and eventually gives up on, quite a lot of activities, it will not have been a waste of time and money. She will have gained valuable life experience, found out more about herself, got better at making decisions which are right for her and had some fun along the way.
If our aim is to raise stress free children, it is important to have realistic expectations of them. Sometimes, as adults, we expect more of our children than we do of ourselves. And we become disappointed and annoyed when they do not follow through on things. However, the chances are that you would not force yourself to stick to a leisure activity that you were not enjoying. So why make your children stick to it either? This can only be a recipe for more, rather than less, stress in your lives.
If you make your main desire for you and your children to have lots of fun doing after school activities then everyone’s stress levels will go down, down, down!!!