Q&A: Is This Activity Right for My Child?

Each week Michele Borba answers your parenting questions right here on her blog. If you have a parenting problem or question leave a comment on this post and you may have yours answered next week!

My son's mother has had him in karate classes now for about 6 months. He started when he turned 4. I do not feel this is an appropriate age for many reasons. When I have him at visitation, on his karate class nights, I allow him to decide if he wants to go. Usually he says "no", so we do not go. This class also has competitions and "tests". If he does not win, he starts calling himself a "loser" and gets upset. Any suggestions? -Tim

It's always hard to know whether a class or activity is really appropriate for your child. And with the cost of some of these classes and gas prices to transport the child, along with the time involved, it's good to take stock every once in a while to find the "worth it" factor.

Here are five tests to help you decide:

1. Enjoyment. Does the child look forward to the activity? If you're pulling and bribing, think again.

2. Confidence building. Is the activity one that wold boost your child's natural talent, interest or confidence? Is this a positive experience for your child?

3. Developmentally appropriate.  Is the activity set to the child's actual developmental (not necessarily chronological) age? For instance, the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions parents that most kids aren't ready for organized activities or sports until at least age six. Can your child listen, follow directions, do what the instructor asks and work on a team? If not, wait. Or give individual lessons for a while until he is ready.

4. Financially doable. Is this too much of a strain financially?

5. Improvement.  Are you seeing progress? Is the child benefiting from the experience? Are there gains?

If you can't say YES to at least three out of five (ideally four in five) then pull out and wait. My philosophy is there is always next year. Of course the best test is the simplest: Use your instinct. No one knows your child better than you!

By the way, I add up very few positives for the karate and your four-year-old based on what you say. Maybe you can point these out to your son's mother? (Or mail them anonymously????)

Click here to read more of Michele Borba's Q&As, or leave a comment below with your own questions and it may be answered next week.

12Secrets_Borba.jpgDr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know .

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