How to Encourage Your Kids Without Becoming Overbearing

ballet girl
Sweet Little Girl

She looks so cute in her little ballerina outfit. You wish this phase would last forever. But you know it won’t. She was excited when you first enrolled her in the dance classes. Now, she never wants to practice. And she always finds a reason why she doesn’t want to go. Even though you spent a fortune on those classes with the best of intentions, she is now more interested in band instruments. So much for living out your unrealized dreams through your daughter.

It could be possible that you shoulder some of the blame for her waning interest. Don’t beat yourself up over it too much. After all, you wouldn’t be the first, nor will it be the last time you do it. But with a little reflection, you might be able to recognize the signs of when you are crossing over from encouragement to being overbearing. Here’s how you can tell, and how to avoid it the next time:

Let Them Teach You

One of the most overbearing things you can do is set yourself up as the expert and trainer, even if you are. They have to listen to you about everything. They go to bed when you tell them to go to bed, and get up when you tell them it’s time. Everything else they do during the day is regulated by your whim.

By joining the baseball team, they’re branching out and becoming a little more independent. They have their own coach. And it’s not you. Presuming you know better than the coach, and trying to control their hobby is stepping well across the line.

If you want to encourage them without pushing them, go out and get some gear for yourself. Go to your local retailer, or check out baseball gloves from Homerun Monkey, or other such places online. Find your style, fit, and price range. Once you are outfitted, ask your kid to teach you how to throw and catch. Rather than teaching them your way, let them teach you their way. Not only will it make them feel special, it reinforces what they are learning. Few things can be more encouraging than that.

Don’t Overspend

Your kids are worth every penny you can make. However, spending too much time and money on their hobby could have the unintended consequence of putting pressure on them to perform and stick with it past the time when they would rather not. At some point, they will be doing it for you and not them. At that point, it will no longer feel like a hobby, but a chore.

Some hobbies require a substantial investment. Youth sports cost parents an average of $671 per year. A good percentage of parents spend upwards of $1,000 a year per child. Buy what is necessary, but no more. Let them earn more. It is better when they are pushing you than the other way around.

Let Them Discover Their Own Interests

Some dads want to have a son so they can live their unrealized sporting dreams vicariously through their child. Some moms are the same way when it comes to their own dreams. This gets translated into the parent guiding their child into a particular hobby, rather than the child doing something they truly love. You may think they love baseball. But what they really love is you. Baseball, they could do without.

Rather, expose them to a number of experiences. Take them to the symphony, ballgames, plays, auto shows, fashion shows, art galleries, and everything else your town has to offer. If none of that sparks any interest, take them to the next town, and the next, and as many as it takes for them to discover what they love. It might be that what they love is travel.

Every parent wants to see their child become great at something about which they are passionate. But don’t forget that you are dealing with children. Last week, they wanted to be an astronaut. This week, a nurse. Next week… They’re kids. They will want to be everything before it’s over. Enjoy taking pictures while you can. She won’t fit into that ballerina costume forever.

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