When your child shows a natural aptitude for something, it’s normal for you to encourage him to practice that skill, hone it and do even better. Many parents, though, take this encouragement to an unhealthy extreme, without even realizing it. Unable to explore their new skill on their own terms, children find themselves forced to practice and improve on their parents’ schedule. Given this rigorous work, the love of the talent can wan. When children as young as 3 and 4 are forced to do something they once enjoyed, they may rebel.
Keep It Positive
Your child will first go through a joyous phase when she finds something that clicks with who she is. The better she becomes, the happier she’ll be. Still, even with regular improvement, her skill level will plateau and sometimes even slip back. This is frustrating enough for a child to deal with on her own. She’ll need her parents to support her, encourage her not to give up and be proud of her no matter what. Even if your child isn’t doing as well as you’d like her to, if she is trying, cut her some slack. Positive encouragement helps a young child not only improve a certain talent, but also grow as a well-rounded, confident human being. Keep a smile on, and keep the experiences as healthy as you can for her so that she’ll be willing to return to the skill in the future knowing you’re behind her.
When the going gets tough, the kids get going…in the other direction. Give them some space. If your child is utterly fed up with what she is doing, she won’t improve or learn anything new until she’s calmed down anyway. Any pressure you put on her will only exacerbate the situation, and cause the child to rebel against you as well as her perceived failure. Keep yourself on your child’s team in her eyes, since that’s where you are anyway.
Allow your child to choose her skills and area of concentration. So long as she is consistent, she should hold the reins. If she needs help, you can step in with the basics, but don’t order her to practice or force her to concentrate on one thing. Let her ask you. If your kid wants to play with paint instead of going to toddler ballet, consider letting her. She won’t be able to keep up unless her heart is in it, and imposing your ambitions on young children is the quickest path to burning them out.
Keep Your Cool
Sometimes, if your child has turned against something she once loved and showed natural talent for, you can feel anger and want to push back with pressure. Before you do that, try talking to your child, finding out what the problem is from her point of view. If you yell at or demean your youngster, you are putting that skill in a box filled with negativity, and she won’t hasten to try it again any time soon. She’ll associate it with your anger or irritation. Your child needs you fighting in her corner, and only with the knowledge of your love and support can you work on improving together.