If there has been one thing I’ve learned with my children over the last few years, it is that each one of them is completely different from the others. Sure, I’ve known for a long time that there were differences. Some are outgoing, some are shy. Some are more athletic and others are happy to watch. We have introverts and extroverts in our family. Some prefer the outdoors and others would rather be in the house.
So why in the world did I think that when I signed the four oldest kids up for tumbling 2 years ago (which is about when this picture collage was taken), that they all would enjoy it?
Why just because my oldest daughter enjoys playing sports, did I assume her younger brother would share the same joy?
Why did I assume that the twins would get the same grades in school as their older sister?
Assumptions and expectations stink. When I fail to communicate my expectations, whether it’s with my husband, children, or anyone else, I set up myself or someone else for failure or unhappiness. In this case, I was assuming that I was being a good mom simply because I was allowing my children the opportunity to take part in tumbling and that is a privilege that many children would enjoy!
Let’s go back to the tumbling class for a minute. In the beginning, all 4 kids did enjoy it. They loved to rumble on the mats and learn new tricks.
This lasted about 2 months until Jason began harvesting our corn and soybeans. Guess who wanted out first? The boys. Both of them. They both really love harvest (but one enjoys the combine and one wants to ride in the tractor with the grain cart). The oldest boy usually goes with Grandpa and the youngest with Jason. Soon after harvest began, tumbling class became a time to whine, scream, and throw a fit (and that was just the boys).
Another few months passed, all but one child was burned out. I was raised that when you start something, you finish it. So we made the kids finish out the class, but I learned that only 2 would be continuing on with dance after that!
This year I’m trying something new.
Before school started, I sat the children down and we talked about what activities they were wanting to take part in this year. I made notes. We talked about how I didn’t want our life to be a constant schedule and to be running to and from activities. I also explained that I would try to take their lists of what is most important to them and make those activities work. We talked about how each of us has different interests and I reminded them of tumbling. I also let them know that they might not get to participate in everything on their lists but we would do our best to accommodate their favorites.
I’m hoping that by encouraging individuality, everyone will be happier but also will be more tolerant when we are waiting for someone else’s activity to get over with! Two of the girls wanted to do dance classes. Two want to continue with Girl Scouts. One of the boys wants to try Boy Scouts. We talked about church activities and that they were not optional. We also discussed sports.
By doing this, there were no assumptions or expectations. I am hoping to encourage each child’s individual strengths, weaknesses and interests.
How do you encourage individuality with your children? Do you have any advice on allowing them to participate in activities?