DD is an all-rounder. Good at sport and art and lots of academic things. Enthusiastic. As a result she's in demand, especially for anything competitive.
We were told that the Level 6 (higher ability) school exams conflicted with the camp trip for year 6s; luckily I figured out that the dates didn't conflict so DD was able to do both, otherwise she was begging to take the exams during her residential or at a school near to the camp.
She is off on a Latin trip today (all day). But also there is an intra-house Netball tournament this week so school changed the date of her house matches just so Dd (and another girl on the trip, to be fair) could be there.
Last week DD skipped her violin lesson (we argued about it!) so that she could raise funds for a sponsored 5k swim. When she broke her arm school staff faces fell because she was their star hope for the cross country district events (she ran, anyway, although we sharply curtained her training for a few weeks).
She pushes herself very hard but she's understandably heavily encouraged if she's representing the school because they know she will do them proud. She goes up to secondary school soon and was drooling over the sports clubs and I'm worrying that these conflicts will get worse if she finds more things she excels at, especially with school staff encouragement.
Anyone been there and have words of advice? I imagine it's part of growing up, but DH & I never had conflicts like this so don't quite know how other folk juggle things. TIA.
~ Yank Transplant to Britain and Zookeeper of 4 DC age 15 and under. ~
I'm not entirely sure but it sounds like your DD wants to participate in all of the activities.
If that's not the case, and she's doing some of them to please others, then I'd start with helping her to say "no" when she's invited to do something she isn't interested in. Some children are compliant and people-pleasing. They have real difficulty saying "no" and need to rehearse.
Coach her with a few lines ("I'm sorry, I've made a commitment to the orchestra and can't skip violin. It wouldn't be fair to the others" or "My doctor advised me to protect my arm, I can't run").
Role play saying "no".
Spin out worse case scenarios - what happens if she doesn't take part? Eg. Will she never get to swim again? Never get to fundraise again? Help her see that a missed opportunity isn't the end of the world.
Corollary - what happens if she takes part but can't fully commit? Will she disappoint herself and others if she can only manage a half-assed job because she's going to miss practices/rehearsals while she participates in a conflicting event?
Speak with the teachers and coaches who are pressuring her and ask them to back off a little.
OTOH, if she wants to join all of the activities, then it sounds like she needs to learn how to prioritize and make choices. Help her draw up her own a list of guidelines for participating. The list might include things like:
- does it conflict with a prior commitment
- does it inconvenience others and how fair/difficult is it to ask them to alter their own plans
- time demands - some families set a limit on number of nights for extra-curriculars, or insist only one day of the weekend be devoted to outside activities, or limit the hours per week
Then, once she's prioritized, some of the stuff I wrote about earlier, about saying "no", will come in handy.
I'm probably a little sensitive about this right now because DD has been directing a few plays at school. Other students enthusiastically joined in but over-committed themselves. She's had a heckuva time trying to accommodate them and still run her shows. It would have been better if the other students admitted at the beginning that they couldn't do it. There have been some strained feelings.
ooh, I like your last point very much. Not least because I think it will be the most convincing one I could put to her. She mustn't make commitments that could end up being too much and then letting others down. She did this with skipping violin last week, effectively, I'm sure her violin teacher was disappointed (DD is a bit of a star not because she's so great at violin but she's still got much further than most kids do purely from taking school lessons).
Yes it's great she's so driven and ambitious, but she's not superhuman either. She has to learn that even she has to say no sometimes.
I think maybe we should try only allowing one new commitment say... each school term?. And emphasise that she mustn't let other people down. At the moment if she flakes out on going to her gym lesson I make her pay for it, although I think she's truanted a few times without me catching her because I am trying to give her independence to travel there and back, argh.
~ Yank Transplant to Britain and Zookeeper of 4 DC age 15 and under. ~
My eldest learned the hard way. When you over-commit there is ALWAYS someone who gets let down. Better to do a few things you can feel good about and really be present for then be in the position of either going in less than prepared or having to miss things and let down your friends. Even if you can still be great flying by the seat of your pants, my own kids find no satisfaction getting kudos for things they didn't have to actually work at. It was at it's worst in middle school for DD but come high school, she paired down to the few things that meant something to her and learned to say "no." She's still busier than ever but not nearly as many conflicts.
My DS has always been better about this stuff. He has always hated conflicts. He hates missing one thing to do another. Because of this, he never says "yes" without looking at scrutinizing the calendar.
I learned early to keep my kids away from any adult who put too much weight on their participation. Those personalities who "need" your kid are typically bad news. We have found the best adult mentors are the sort that are confident they can put together a great team or function with anyone. They may value your child but they don't need the win enough to guilt trip a kid.
I can't say some days don't still suck. This Saturday, between the two kids we have SAT exam, scholarship audition/interview, charity fundraiser, theatre rehearsal, basketball game, gala performance and prom. It's just chance that everything landed on that day. Obviously, the kids had to make some choices because we can only manage 4.... I just won't be seeing DH that day!
Married mom, DD 18, DS 15, and a Valentine's surprise on the way!
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