Summer Extracurriculars: Encourage, Don't Push

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Video games, mobile phones, television, and other modern technology can be huge distractions for children in their free time. With a long break upon us, you may be looking for extracurricular activities to keep your child meaningfully engaged for the summer.

If your child doesn't seem interested in participating in extracurricular activities such as sports or other physical activities, these tips may help you motivate them to put down the iPad and go have some fun.

1. Find an activity your child enjoys. Interest is the most important motivating factor for getting your child to enjoy an extracurricular activity; if he's completely uninterested, it really won't benefit him in the long run. Try taking your child to explore an activity that might interest her. If your child is a huge Lions fan, attend a football game together. If your child might enjoy dance, attend a recital or the ballet.

2. Make sure your child gives it a chance. If your child tries to give up on a new activity after one attempt, encourage him to try again. If your child signed up for soccer for the season, do your best to help her stick it out. It's hard for children to start something new, especially when they feel others on the team are better or have more experience. Cheer them on so they feel confident to give it another go—and help practice at home. Often, the more they try, the better children enjoy an activity. In the end, teaching children that trying and completing something you start are keys to being successful.

3. Don't force it. If your child signs up for a sport or activity and doesn't enjoy it, don't force her to continue after the season ends. Participating in something that makes her miserable can backfire, and she can end up resenting the activity. Just because you think your daughter is a fabulous tennis player does not mean she will compete at Wimbledon. Even more, forcing a child to participate in a sport he doesn't enjoy can turn him away from that activity for good. Sometimes, distance really does make the heart grow fonder. Allow your child the space and time to decide if he wants to try again, and sometimes he will.

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