Supporting vs. forcing when it comes to after school activities, making friends with the other parents (or not), healthily digesting the happenings of the world.
If you have questions for Romona, submit them through this linked form:
“People who grew up in an anxiety producing household have a higher Anxiety Set Point than average people.”
"My daughter is very fickle when it comes to after school activities. She tries one thing and decides she doesn’t like it. How can I encourage her to stick with an activity without feeling like I’m forcing her to do something she hates?" Signed, mother of a 9 y/o
Perseverance, grit, and determination are all words to describe a quality in all of us that guarantees a better chance at a successful life. This is a skill that can be taught and learned at an early age. It has been pointed out that we are born with grit as it takes determination to learn how to crawl and then eventually to walk and finally to run, to become mobile! Walking didn’t come easily. It involved lots of practice, many falls and finally success. We know how to do hard things and we just have to tap into that knowledge of how to master a skill through determination and practice. I remember learning how to ski as an adult. I wanted to be a “natural”, someone who took to it like a “duck to water”. But alas, I was not a natural. I had to practice, I had to take lessons and fall a lot. But I wanted to learn to ski and I did. I wanted to learn to play the piano as a young girl. I never became a concert pianist, but I learned that proficiency comes with practice.
We can foster perseverance in children by modeling that behavior ourselves. Being careful not to say, “That’s too hard” or “I was never good at athletics or math myself.” Instead teach them that their brain is like a muscle and that school is like going to the gym for their brain, that learning is like exercise. It takes repetition and focus and concentration. Doing hard things just takes more practice and not quitting. Finish what you start. When your child starts a new thing, part of the deal should be that she must not quit for an agreed upon length of time. We have all had to learn to do hard things that we didn’t like to do. Liking something is nice but not necessary to the learning process.
"I don’t particularly get along well with the mom of my daughter’s new friends. Our children are the exact same ages and love to play, but the mother is a bit difficult to be around as our political values don’t align and she doesn’t let me forget it. How can I avoid spending time with this family without my daughter fully knowing the reason?" Signed, frustrated mama
Getting along with our neighbors has become more problematic in the last decade or two. Tolerance of another’s views has been harder to achieve. Remember when people used to say, “Never discuss religion or politics.” Or “Can we just agree to disagree?” and then get on to a discussion of a neutral subject. My closest and dearest relatives are of different religious and political beliefs than my own so those topics rarely come up in conversation.
Do you need to befriend this woman because your child likes her child? Certainly, be cordial, but limit the amount of time you spend together one on one. Do not say negative things about her in front of your daughter. The world is filled with situations you cannot control, but you can control what you say in front of or around your daughter.
"I think I speak for everyone (in the world) but also particularly in the Boulder community when I say how hard these past two years have been. It’s even more difficult to think about how hard it has been for our children in their formative years. Although my son hasn’t shown any out-of-the-norm (the new normal, that is) signs for help, should I be proactively seeking a therapist for him to make sure that he is processing everything in a healthy way?"
Signed, anxious father
Yes, this has been a difficult 2 years for everyone, especially for children. None of us had been prepared for it and we all had to adapt quickly to a situation that took us by surprise. But I wonder why no one talks about the positive things that have come out of the lockdown. We’ve had to learn to be cheerfully adaptable and I think your children are going to need that skill for the future. Change is coming at a furious pace and adaptability may be necessary to navigate it successfully. Our family units were strengthened. We came to rely on each other much more than in the past. Maybe we even got to know each other better. We sat around the dining room table, Mom and Dad on their computers for work and the children on their school computers. We learned how to play together and eat together and have alone time in a crowded household.
It sounds like your family has come through this strange time relatively well. I think preventive psychotherapy is a good idea but best left to the schools. The Boulder Public School system has therapists/counselors available to your son. I hope that they would also proactively address the problems with re-entry and processing the effects, both good and bad, of the past 2 years for all the students.
-Romona Scholder, M.A., RNCS, Psychotherapist