How do you Handle a Child who Doesn’t want to Participate in Extracurricular Activities

Most children enjoy participating in extracurricular activities, and it is a wonderful way for them to pursue their interests and socialize. However, there are many other children who simply have little or no interest in becoming involved in any after-school activities whatsoever. If your child fits into this category, then you may have tried every trick in the book in order to spark your child’s interest in a variety of stimulating and enjoyable extracurricular activities. Nevertheless, your child is still reluctant to participate. As parents, we naturally want the very best for our children, and we are aware of the many benefits that can be derived from their involvement in extracurricular pursuits. Countless studies have shown that children who are involved in such activities tend to perform better academically, have higher levels of self-esteem, and are at less of a risk of succumbing to peer pressure. How, then, do you encourage your reluctant child to participate in extracurricular activities without putting a great deal of pressure on him or her?

First and foremost, it is essential to understand the reasons why your child does not have an interest in extracurricular activities. Oftentimes, a child simply may not be aware of the options that are available. A visit to your child’s school principal or guidance counselor can be extremely helpful in determining which groups, clubs, or sports activities are available. Once your child has a clear understanding of all of the options, you can then engage him or her in a discussion of which of the available options seem interesting. Also, do not limit your child’s choices to only those activities that are offered through his or her school. Check with your local Parks and Recreation Department or YMCA to learn about the various programs that they might offer as well. Finally, many children are reluctant to join a particular extracurricular activity due to extreme shyness, or because they have difficulty adjusting to new situations. In cases such as these, it might prove beneficial to allow your child to “test-drive” an activity before committing to it. For instance, take your child to a meeting of the group he or she is showing an interest in, and allow him or her to simply observe. For many children, this is all that is required to help ease any anxiety they may be feeling about participating.

Furthermore, keep in mind that it is neither healthy nor beneficial to put a child under tremendous pressure to become involved in an extracurricular activity. Typically, the majority of children do not do well under pressure, and you want to ensure that your overwhelming desire for your son or daughter to participate in something will not cause him or her to become unhappy. Therefore, remember that all children have interests and activities that they enjoy, and your child will find his or her way over time. Also, take your child’s personality into account, and understand that, much like some adults, certain children do not have the personality type that derives pleasure and satisfaction out of group activities. Perhaps your son would be more content to take private music lessons instead of joining the local soccer team. Maybe your daughter would prefer to take an after-school art class rather than try-out for the cheer leading squad. In other words, respect your child’s interests, and allow him or her to choose an activity that will best fit his or her personality. In the end, you will be comforted by the fact that your child is participating in an activity that he or she truly enjoys, and your child will reap the many benefits of being involved in extracurricular activities.