This question has come up a few times in the last few months when I have been chatting with other parents:

How do you know the difference between pushing your child and teaching them to follow through with their commitment?

For example, Arrine is in gymnastics and dance classes. The majority of the time she is excited to participate and listens and looks forward to class. But I remember a specific gymnastic night when she just wasn’t into it. She wouldn’t listen to her coach and kept coming over to me. And I told her, “If you don’t listen and behave, we will just go home.” And that we did. After a few tears and judgey looks from other parents, we packed up and headed home. She was tired and moody and I wasn’t going to fight with her on it. Nick has had a similar experience with dance too. Again, these are very rare occurrences, but when they do happen, how should we handle it?

I have vowed to never be a Toddlers &Tiaras mom, where I am pushing my daughter to participate in things she really doesn’t want to do. But what if I register her in dance next season and half way through she decides she never wants to go again. Do I just allow her to stop going? How does this teach values of commitment and dedication and being accountable? I do realize she is only four, but at what age do you need to be forceful with this? And I do really see promise in her as a dancer, and so does her instructor, so is Arrine really the best judge of what’s best for her right now? Since she is still just a young kid?

Then I think of Tiger Woods. His father was dedicated to his golf when Tiger was so young. I am sure there were days when Tiger didn’t want to practice – like c’mon, he’s a kid – but how did his father know to stay committed to his son? And how did he accomplish it without creating resentment between golf and Tiger and himself? You want your child to learn the importance of finishing something, but at what cost? Do you become a Toddlers & Tiaras mom and force them to finish out the season? And then try something new when the commitment is over?

Is it seeing the love of the activity within your child and knowing that sometimes they will have an off day and let it go? Is that what we need to know to keep pushing? Maybe it comes down to their age and what’s an appropriate expectation? 

I think this is the post where I have asked the most questions and never actually answered anything. So this is a good spot to stop writing.