It’s Thursday – the day we normally attend Music class, but today I opted to allow Gavin to play at playland instead. The teacher called me since we missed last week’s class as well (we were down in Singapore) and I told her I don’t believe in forcing myself to attend a class when it’s clear he doesn’t really want to be there. Yes, Gavin will eventually have to learn to attend school, but not yet. He’s still got a good number of years before he has to start and we can afford to go at his pace for now – and his pace is “no classes”.
The teacher said that some kids just take a bit of getting used to the structure of the class and it will take a few classes to get them to warm up. Well, Gavin has been to three classes and he’s no nearer participating now than he was the first day he attended. If there is something I have realised about Gavin, it is that when he makes excuses to do something (such as wanting to go “wash his hands” which means leaving the class), it means he doesn’t want to be there.
As it is, I already have enough trouble getting him to sit in his car seat – which I think at this point is far more important than getting him to attend class – without needing to find more things to add to the list of things I’m trying to force him to do.
I’ve seen kids who seem to enjoy class from the first day and honestly, if Gavin were one of those kids, I’d have no qualms taking him to class. The fact that we’ve persevered for three classes with no greater enthusiasm to attend class suggests that he isn’t ready. I’ve met staff from establishments similar to Kidzsports who think I need to push Gavin and I’m sure they believe that to be in the best interest of the child, however, I disagree. I want Gavin to enjoy class, not dread it – that means letting him go at his own pace and waiting for him to be ready.
When we first introduced Gavin to the slide, he was very interested in it. We put him on it and slowly lowered him off and he loved it. When it looked like he could handle his own on the slide, we put him on it and allowed him to slide down on his own. After that incident, he didn’t want to go back on it and would only agree to go on the slide if he was sitting on my lap. It was because he couldn’t control his speed and he was scared.
After that, I would just ask if he wanted to go on the slide and let him decide when he was ready. If he wanted me to go with him, I would (as long as the slide could hold my weight), and if he didn’t want to go on, I wouldn’t force him or make an issue out of it. Eventually, he gained enough confidence to tackle the slide on his own, but he would use his feet to control the speed at which he descended the slide.
Hubby said he was “kiasi” (literal translation: afraid to die – used in reference to anyone who’s scared to do things), but I thought he was just being careful - which, for a parent, isn’t exactly a bad thing. I’m not about to encourage him to be reckless and then end up having to reign him in when he goes over board. At least now I know that if he’s attempting to do something, he’ll hold on with both hands until he’s sure of himself. In fact, it’s only when he’s over-confident of his ability that I find myself having to warn him to be careful because he stops paying attention to what he’s doing and is at greatest risk of hurting himself.
By no means do I discourage him from attempting something new. In fact, I encourage as much as possible but I let Gavin decide if he feels up to the task. If he doesn’t, I don’t push. And I find this works well.
Yesterday, when I took him to Playland again, I noticed that he climbed up the ladder and slid down the slide all on his own and not once did he attempt to slow his descent on the slide. He also started climbing the ladder-type obstacles in the gym for the first time without my prompting.
What’s the bottom line? When a child is ready to tackle something, he will do so without prompting. In the mean time, all we can do is to encourage and reassure while we wait for our child to gain the confidence to try.
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