We have an only child, four year old son. He is fun and happy and does well in preschool. His issue is he seems disinterested in any extra curricular activities. While we don't care if he is the best of the bunch, we want him to learn activities and how to be part of a team. He has taken swim, baseball and soccer classes (not at the same time, one a season) and hasn't taken to any. He is ok once he gets there but complains the entire time going. Sometimes he just refuses to participate once there. Are we doing something wrong? is this too soon? thanks
From: Laurie, Newton MA
He's a preschooler; last I heard, not belong on a team is not a prerequisite for kindergarten. Just because all these activities are available doesn't mean they are necessary or important. In fact, I would argue that they are neither at this age. Is your son in preschool at least three mornings a week? That's all the socialization he needs; it's plenty of opportunity for him to engage in all those important preschool socializing activities.
At this age, the point of these extra activities should be for fun, not to learn skills, or to figure out areas of interest or ability, and certainly not in the hopes of putting a child on a track that might someday lead to a varsity team and college scholarship. So why wouldn't it be fun for him when it seems like it's fun for everyone else? (Keep in mind you have no idea how much cajoling it takes other parents to get their kids there...)
Here are just a few reasons:
1. Some kids have a low threshold for noise and/or smells. Were the swim or soccer lessons indoors? Noise can echo or ricochet off the walls. The smell of chlorine can be overwhelming, especially but not only indoors.
2. Some kids are fearless, others are not. They worry about getting hurt. They don't like being part of a crush of bodies, even if the bodies belong to other kids the same relative size and shape. And what if there's one kid who's bigger? Even a little bit bigger can loom large.
3. Everything you mention is an athletic activity. If socialization is what you're after, what about arts and crafts, or music? What about a non-team sport, like skating lessons?
Back off, Laurie. Lower your expectations and absolutely don't convey a sense of disappointment to your son. Stop pushing activities on him. Let him ask for an activity. Doing it with a buddy is always a good idea. Most of all, don't worry. Your son is only 4. Just because he doesn't like a group sport now doesn't mean he never will. Just because he isn't drawn to athletics now doesn't mean he won't be athletic later. And, btw, so what if he isn't, on both counts? All in all, all of this is Not a Big Deal. (Oh yeah, and where did his dad fall on this spectrum?)