Daughter Easily Gives Up New Interests

I have a 10-year-old daughter. She plays the flute, sings in the chorus and takes tap dancing lessons. Soon, she will start softball. It seems like she gives up on her new interests too easily because she is not really good at them. Should I let her keep trying new things?

Question:

This is a tough question: Where do you draw that line? You certainly don't want to discourage her by forcing her to do something that she isn't interested in doing. Yet, if she gives up on something too soon she may not learn to enjoy it or fully develop her potential in that area.

My suggestion to you is to allow your daughter to continue to dabble in activities that appeal to her, but give some guidelines as to what is an acceptable "trial period." For example, if she shows interest in ballet, offer to send her for a month's worth of lessons to see how she likes it.

If she decides to continue, ask her to make a reasonable commitment to it, such as a six month period. When she seems interested in trying unusual or expensive activities, have her observe first (perhaps two sessions to get a good idea of what the activity entails) and see how she responds.

Children's literature, particularly biographies, contain excellent examples of people who have demonstrated perseverance. Reading these stories may inspire your daughter to dedicate herself to improving her skills in a specific area. Some suggestions include The Children's Book of Virtues and The Children's Book of Heroes, both edited by William Bennett. Also, you might want to find the biographies of Helen Keller and The Wright brothers.

In addition, the children's librarian at your local library will be able to help you select interesting books that are appropriate for your child's reading level, or you can visit Amazon.com to view the titles available.

In conjunction with these interventions, remember to use lots of positive reinforcement with your daughter. When you notice an improvement in her performance, be sure to mention it. Also, give lots of verbal praise for trying despite the sometimes frustrating outcome. She needs motivation right now, and hearing words of encouragement and love from you will help her gain the confidence she needs to stick with a new interest.

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