Does your child complain and resist going to extracurricular activities only to have fun once you get them there? Once they are at a fun activity, does your child resist leaving? As a Martial Arts School Owner, I talk to parents about this common problem all the time.
They say that their child is difficult to get to class, but love it once they are there. As parents, we worry that our child may be losing interest in the activity. The good news is that this behavior does not necessarily mean that the child doesn?t like the activity.
Instead the child is demonstrating a behavior known as ?present focus” What is present focus? Present focus is a child becoming focused on a current activity and not wanting to stop in order to start another activity even if they enjoy it.
Younger children have difficulty thinking into the future and tend to seek instant gratification. For example, if you offer them a piece of their favorite candy now or a bag of the same candy a week from now.
The child will most likely choose the piece now. Children lack the impulse control of adults, therefore, an important part of parenting is becoming the child?s impulse control until they create good habits and make good decisions. Remember that the child may love their extracurricular activity, but still display the present focused behavior.
Over my years of teaching, I discovered many effective techniques to help parents refocus children, in order to get them into class.
Tips to Combat Present
1. Remind them. Remind them about their extracurricular activity early in the day. Children easily forget their activity schedule and resist activities that they are not mentally prepared for.
2. Talk positively. Talk to them positively about the extracurricular activity. Build an image in their minds about how much fun they have at the activity.
3. Build excitement. Practice before leaving for the activity at home (play catch with a baseball, dribble a basketball, or kick around a soccer ball). This helps get your child excited about going and puts them in the right mindset.
4. Limit highly stimulating activities. Dont let your child play their favorite video game or other activities that cause resistance to leaving right before the extracurricular activity. Have your child perform less stimulating activities like eating dinner or finishing homework instead.
5. Change at the extracurricular activity. For kids, getting ready for extracurricular activity becomes a major sticking point. Make the barrier low to get into the car by grabbing their uniform and changing at the extracurricular activity, if possible.
6. Get a Friend involved. Children love hanging out with friends. If their friends are in the same activities, they are more likely to stay committed too.
7. Be involved yourself. Volunteer time by coaching or in the case of karate join the classes too and lead by example. Children model their parents behavior. We always say that ?Families who workout together, stay together.
8. Take Earlier Classes. Look for an extracurricular activity that has classes right after school. Instead of settling in at home and attempting to uproot your child, opt for an earlier class or activity, if available.
By applying these tips, you can combat the present focus behavior in your child so that getting them to extracurricular activities is easier and less stressful, and you?re guaranteed to reap all the benefits that these activities have to offer your child. Tim Rosanelli